Benefits of Massage Therapy – Deep Gluteal Syndrome

What is Deep Gluteal Syndrome?

Deep gluteal syndrome (DGS) is an aching pain deep in the buttock region that may or may not refer up to the back and/or down the back of the leg. The exact cause of deep gluteal pain may be different for different people and occurs when the sciatic nerve is entrapped in the buttock region. 

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in our bodies. Its roots begin in the low back and its large nerve fibres extend down the back of the buttock, and entire leg to the heel of the foot. DGS is the pain experienced in the buttock when the sciatic nerve becomes entrapped in the buttock area. 

DGS used to be called piriformis syndrome. Current research shows us there are several different structures in the buttock region that may be the cause of pain in this area, including: the piriformis muscle, the hamstrings, the gemellus and obturator muscles, quadratus femoris or inflammation in the area from other structures.  

The quality of pain is described as a deep ache that is worse with long periods of sitting. The pain is not usually accompanied by sharp shooting sensations, numbness, tingling or weakness, although, these symptoms may be present with DGS if there is a history of injury (muscle or nerve strain).  

How can your RMT help alleviate Deep Gluteal Symptoms?

Treatment will vary depending on the quality of pain and severity of symptoms. Your Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) will consider if you’ve been diagnosed with DGS or piriformis syndrome by your health practitioner. If you do not have a diagnosis but are experiencing DGS like symptoms, your RMT may also assess your low back and hip joint to distinguish your pain from other possible causes.

While your RMT cannot diagnose you with DGS, assessing these areas will help them treat your pain more effectively by identifying the possible cause. Treatment will be focused on pain reduction. A variety of different techniques including, active or passive range of motion, passive stretching, compression and techniques using oil or cream can be used to increase range of motion, increase ease of movement, and decrease pain. Self-care including mobility, strengthening and stretching exercises may be included in your treatment plan. Please consult your doctor if you are worried about your condition. Massage therapy is most effective when it is included in your overall wellness plan.  



Martin HD, Reddy M, Gómez-Hoyos J. Deep gluteal syndrome. J Hip Preserv Surg. 2015 Jul;2(2):99-107. doi: 10.1093/jhps/hnv029. Epub 2015 Jun 6. PMID: 27011826; PMCID: PMC4718497. 

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