There are three gluteus muscles that control both sides of the buttocks: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus. The largest and most superficial of the three is the gluteus maximus, composed of a broad and thick fleshy mass which makes up the large portion of the buttocks. The gluteus maximus are the muscles attached to the coccyx and to other bones in the buttocks. The tightness of this muscle or a spasm can cause gluteus maximus pain especially when you raise yourself from a sitting position. You don’t normally feel the pain while sitting and the pain is normally felt on just one side of the buttocks.
Sitting, walking or other ambulatory functions make full use of the gluteus maximus and the other gluteal muscles. It helps the upper body to bow and bend and works to outwardly rotate the hip. Gluteus maximus pain can be caused by injury to the butt muscles and can interfere with the ability to walk, sit or stand. A number of other activities can cause gluteus maximus pain but the most common are work related chronic positions. The gluteus muscles extends the legs as their primary full time work, but when they support and stabilizes sitting positions for a long time like whole day typing work or long distance driving, they can send pain signals.
Injury to the gluteus maximus happens when professional runners do not take the time to stretch the hamstrings in training. Professional athletes and people engaged in strenuous exercises should focus on stretching the hamstrings first because all our muscle systems are interconnected. In some competition, it has been found out that when runners crumple to the ground, the hamstring muscles gave out. Over stretching can rip and tear muscle fibres, causing gluteus maximus pain which may require a lengthy recovery. Not stretching and warming up on the other hand before an athletic activity or other strenuous work can also cause injury to the gluteus maximus.
Most gluteus maximus injury is relieved by three kinds of treatment: hot compress, cold compress and rest. Physical therapy, massage and creams and gels may also be able to heal injury to the muscles. Gels with eucalyptus and other heating and warming formulas are especially helpful. Gentle massages can aid in the healing process but it should be done carefully as the massage may also cause tears in the muscle fibres. On examination, a person complaining of gluteus maximus pain will have muscle spasms, stiffness of the joints and tenderness of the lumbo-sacral joint.
Resuming normal activities is recommended for people with back pains, but they should be conducted without further strain and stretching. The normal activities should be resumed gradually guided by the threshold of pain, and only after acute pain is gone. Prolonged bed rest is no longer recommended and has been known to delay recovery, so after a few days except when pain is really unbearable, the patient should already be up and about.
Pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or commonly known as NSAIDs provide relief for pain while muscle relaxants prove helpful in some patients. Applying around 104 degrees heat pads can be very helpful and may be more effective than medications; although some doctors recommend a change from hot to cold packs in 3 minute sequences two or three times a day. Also helpful are support belts, corsets or braces worn for brief periods.
Sleep plays a vital part in the healing process. It may be difficult to sleep while suffering from pain, as most pains tend to intensify at night. Taking a warm bath before bedtime and doing some relaxation techniques to help promote sleep will help.
The sciatic nerve runs into thighs and down the legs and into the foot. If the sciatic nerve gets inflamed this can be felt as gluteus maximus pain but in actual fact it is the sciatic nerve that is giving the pain. Sciatica is a symptom of other medical disorders. This condition should be addressed as the cause of the sciatic nerve pain could be a problem with the piriformis muscle such as piriformis syndrome.