Glute Pain: 8 Common Causes & What to Do

Updated in June 2023

Glute pain is a symptom that can emerge due to an intense lower body workout, but it can also be a sign of bursitis, tendon inflammation or sciatic nerve inflammation. Glute pain can occur with other symptoms, such as lower back pain or tingling, which can radiate to the groin, legs or abdomen. 

Flute pain can be worrying if it is felt deeply, constantly, felt at rest, interferes with activities of daily living (like walking or tying your shoes) or if there is notable swelling, numbness or sensitivity upon palpation.

If you notice these symptoms, you should see a doctor for assessment, particularly if the pain does not improve within 1 or 2 weeks or if it occurred as a result of a fall. The doctor can reach a diagnosis to guide the best treatment approach, which will vary depending on the underlying cause. 

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What causes glute pain?

The most common causes of glute pain include: 

1. Sciatica

Sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain, is caused by inflammation of the sciatic nerve. This nerve starts at the end of the spine and innervates the gluteal muscles before descending to the thighs and feet. Swelling can cause back pain that radiates to the flutes or legs, as well as tingling, electric shock-like sensations or sharp pain.

Sciatica usually emerges suddenly and resolves in less than a week. Complete our online sciatica symptoms quiz to assess your risk for this condition.

What to do: You can stretch and use hot-cold therapy to relieve pain and swelling associated with sciatic nerve inflammation. Check out how to perform sciatica stretches to relieve mild pain at home. 

However, if pain does not improve or if other symptoms emerge (like difficulty walking, sitting or performing activities of daily living), you should see a doctor for treatment. See the treatment options your doctor may recommend for sciatica pain relief.

2. Piriformis syndrome 

Piriformis syndrome is a rare condition characterized by compression and inflammation of the sciatic nerve caused by the piriformis muscle. This muscle is located in the buttocks and can spasm involuntarily and cause a deep pain in the affected glute and leg. 

Generally, piriformis syndrome can cause difficulty walking, numbness in the affected leg or glute and pain that worsens when sitting or crossing the legs. 

What to do: If you notice symptoms, you should see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. The doctor may recommend physiotherapy as a natural way to reduce pain and discomfort. 

3. Gluteal amnesia

Gluteal amnesia can cause glute pain or numbness. It usually occurs due to an imbalance in muscular strength and inflammation of the gluteal tendon due to lack of physical activity. Prolonged sitting can also trigger this condition due to reduced blood flow. 

Gluteal tendon inflammation can lead to intense, sharp pain that emerges when standing for too long, walking up stairs or sitting. 

What to do: The best way to treat gluteal amnesia is to strengthen the glute muscles with a qualified professional. Defending on your symptoms, the doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatories like naproxen or ibuprofen.

4. Muscular pain

Glute pain can also emerge after an intense run or lower body workout. Pain may be felt due to tendon or muscular injuries in the hamstrings or buttocks. 

What to do: To relieve muscular pain, you should rest and apply ice to the affected area. Constant pain should be assessed by a doctor to confirm the diagnosis of a muscular injury and to initiate the most appropriate treatment. 

5. Herniated disc

A herniated lumbar disc is characterized by an intervertebral disc that has bulged out of its place. It can cause difficulty moving, lowering or walking, as well as pain and numbness in the glutes. Learn about the different types of hernias that can occur and how they are treated. 

What to do: It is important to consult an orthopedic surgeon, neurosurgeon or neurologist for diagnosis and treatment. Usually, the doctor will prescribe anti-inflammatories and analgesics, which should be used as prescribed. The doctor may also order physiotherapy and, in more severe cases, surgical repair. 

6. Bursitis

Bursitis is the inflammation of a bursa, small fluid-filled sac that reduces friction between bones, tendons and muscles.

Bursitis of the ischiogluteal bursa can cause symptoms like glute pain, pain that radiates down the legs, difficulty sitting or standing, and buttock redness or swelling. 

What to do: You should rest and apply cold compresses to the affected for 15 minutes, 2 to 3 times per day. Bursitis can also be treated with anti-inflammatory with oral ibuprofen or diclofenac. The doctor can also inject corticosteroids directly into the bursa to relieve symptoms. 

7. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction 

Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction is a disorder of the joint that connects the sacrum (which is at the bottom of the spine) to the ilium (located in the pelvis). This condition is associated with symptoms like inflammation and lower back pain that radiates to the glutes, groin and legs. 

The condition can emerge due to conditions like leg length discrepancies or scoliosis, which can overload the SI joints. Other common conditions that can lead to SI joint dysfunction include falls, spinal problems and pregnancy. 

What to do: You should consult an orthopedic surgeon for assessment. The doctor will likely recommend 1 to 2 days of rest with cold or hot compresses, as well as medications like analgesics, anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxants. 

8. Degenerative disc disease

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a progressive breakdown of the intervertebral discs, which can affect the lower back discs. Pain can radiate from the disks to the flutes and legs and can cause tingling.

The most common cause of DDD is natural aging processes which involve thinning and dehydration of the disks. This is common after the age of 40. 

What to do: Treatment should be oriented by an orthopedic surgeon, who may prescribe exercise and stretching to strengthen the back muscles. The doctor may also prescribe medications (like anti-inflammatories or analgesics) to reduce pain, physiotherapy or, in serious cases, surgery.