Do you spend most of your time sitting for your work or studying? Most people who sit for prolonged hours are at risk of Dead Butt Syndrome. What is Dead Butt Syndrome Why does this happen and what can do you about it? While this condition may sound a little odd it can result in serious consequences in some, if not treated in time.
What is Dead Butt Syndrome?
Dead Butt Syndrome is known as gluteus medius tendinopathy (GMT), which is a painful inflammation of the tendons of the gluteus muscles. You may experience discomfort in the hip region when you spend more hours in a sitting position, either for work, at your desk or while traveling in a car.
The main function of the gluteus medius muscles is to provide stability to the hip joint and support the hip and pelvis during activities that include weight bearing on the hips. The gluteus muscles play an important role in maintaining proper alignment of the spine, hip, and body. However, if the gluteal muscles forget their function or are unable to offer support and stability to the hip mainly because of their inactivity, it can result in Dead Butt Syndrome. Experts call this condition gluteal amnesia as the muscles can forget their purpose.1
Causes of Dead Butt Syndrome
Dead Butt Syndrome is considered to be a condition that can develop due to sitting for long hours, sitting in the same position for long, strenuous exercises, or due to weakness of the gluteal muscles. As human bodies are not made to be seated for long hours, when you do so, the muscles are not activated efficiently and hence do not function the way they should. This is when such problems arise. With weak gluteus muscles, you can experience varying levels of low back pain, hip pain, and pain in the buttock when you sit or sometimes even when you move after being seated for long.2
However, Dead Butt Syndrome can occur in active people. This is true in the case of sportspersons or athletes who do not undergo proper strength training, cross-training, or warm-up. It may also be seen in people who spend sedentary time during the entire week and indulge in sports activities on weekends. Due to prolonged sitting for most days a week, the muscles become weak and are not conditioned to participate in sports. As their muscles are not trained enough to take on strenuous physical activity, the muscles cause pain or discomfort.
Symptoms of Dead Butt Syndrome
While the name may sound like the gluteal muscles fall asleep, it can several complaints. Here are some of the most important symptoms of dead but syndrome.
Pain – Pain in the hip is the commonest symptom of Dead Butt Syndrome. The pain may be sharp, acute, or dull aching in nature. For some, the pain may radiate down the legs like sciatic nerve pain. Hip pain due to dead butt syndrome often increases in weight-bearing activities, walking, running, or doing exercises.
Stiffness – Stiffness in the region of the hip or the buttock is also a common complaint of dead butt syndrome. Stiffness accompanied by hip pain may be more in the morning, after sitting for long hours, or after sleeping by turning on the painful side.
Vague pain – Poor posture, inefficient gluteal muscles, and weak hip muscles can result in pain. This is often compensated by exerting more pressure on the other sides of the legs or using other smaller muscles, which results in pain in those areas. The overall presentation can be vague pain around the hips and buttocks, with the pain sometimes extending to the legs and foot. It can cause vague pain in the back of the thighs or legs, and along the foot.
As the soft tissues around the hip are inflamed, it can result in tenderness, swelling, and a warm sensation in the region. Pain can also result in improper gait, and balance issues when walking, climbing stairs, or bending.
Risk of Injuries – Improper techniques of walking, running, or sitting can further lead to an increased risk of injuries. Weak muscles that extend from the low back, hips, legs, and foot can cause an imbalance and even affect other soft tissues.
Diagnosis of Dead Butt Syndrome
Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and examine the painful areas for pain, stiffness, and tenderness. Necessary clinical examination and tests to identify the involvement of muscles as in dead butt syndrome will be done. If needed, scans may be ordered to rule out other possible causes of hip pain.
Treatment & Management of Dead Butt Syndrome
If you have acute hip pain or pain in the gluteal region that makes it difficult for you to perform your daily tasks, you may need to rest and see a doctor. If you are an athlete and want to resume your sport at the earliest, you must see a sports medicine doctor.
Ideally, the initial treatment for painful hips or glutes is to apply ice and give rest to the gluteal muscles. Physical therapy may be needed in some cases. Once the acute phase is over and the pain subsides, therapeutic exercises focusing on hip mobility, specific muscle activation, and strengthening must be performed under the guidance of an expert.3
The best way to prevent dead butt syndrome is to avoid sitting for long hours and develop strong gluteal muscles.
Getting up every hour and standing for some time or walking around for a few minutes can help. You can also choose to go up and down the stairs by taking a break from your work. Gentle stretches of the hamstrings and glute squeezes can be easily done even when you are at your desk.
Some people prefer using a therapy ball to sit while at work. It can be helpful as it helps shift your body weight frequently and allows the hip muscles to work to maintain your balance.
If you are traveling in a car for long regularly, take a break if possible or perform stretches.
Regular exercises that work on strengthening the gluteal muscles are important. Stretching exercises to release tight hamstrings and other muscles and strength training for the weak muscles can help. Seek advice from your doctor or plan an exercise routine under the guidance of an expert to focus on strengthening the gluteal muscles and relieving the tight muscles of the hips and the legs.
Remember to warm up well before stretching after your exercises or playing your sport.
Add variety to your routine and your exercise schedule to keep your hip muscles strong and flexible. A perfect balance of physical activity, stretching, strengthening, resistance training, and rest can help overcome your complaints of dead butt syndrome. Try to be active during the day and include small activities or exercises that use the glutes most appropriately.