Has anyone ever called you a pain in the butt? Hopefully not. But perhaps you experience a little pain in the butt after sitting for long periods of time. If so, you might be suffering from a condition known as ischial bursitis. The condition is considered rare, but it is more prevalent in sedentary societies.
Also known as ischiogluteal bursitis, the condition was called weaver’s bottom back in the days before medical science knew what it was. Why weaver’s bottom? Because it was observed among weavers who spent their entire days sitting on hard surfaces while working. That should give you a clue as to what this condition is.
A Form of Bursitis
Ischial bursitis is just one form of a larger set of maladies classified as bursitis. The ‘itis’ suffix in medical terminology refers to inflammation. Thus, bursitis is inflammation of the bursa. Bursa are fluid-filled sacs that reduce friction between skin, bone, muscles, and tendons. When they become inflamed, they can be quite painful.
The bursa involved in ischial bursitis are found just below the buttocks. When they become inflamed, they can cause pain that starts in the lower part of the buttocks and radiates into the legs. Ischial bursitis can make sitting, walking, or running quite uncomfortable. It can also inhibit exercise and sleep.
How It Is Treated
The pain specialists at Lone Star Pain Medicine, a Weatherford, TX clinic that specializes in pain treatment, say that ischial bursitis is most frequently treated in a minimally invasive manner. Doctors generally suggest a combination of:
- avoiding the cause (e.g., prolonged periods of sitting)
- applying cold compresses to reduce inflammation
- using NSAIDs to manage pain
- stretching exercises for the legs and lower back.
Most cases of ischial bursitis can be successfully treated through noninvasive procedures. However, more severe cases might need more intervention. Lone Star Pain doctors say one option is a steroid injection using the corticosteroid lidocaine.
Corticosteroids are synthetic substances that mimic cortisol. In human biology, cortisol is a hormone that helps to regulate inflammation and immune system response. It can help reduce the inflammation of bursitis enough to relieve pain and allow non-invasive treatments to do what they are supposed to do.
Long-term prognosis for most ischial bursitis patients is very good. The condition is rarely chronic when treated in the right way. Oftentimes however, doctors will recommend certain lifestyle changes to prevent future flareups.
Those changes can include:
- Less Sitting – If it is determined that a patient is sitting too long on hard surfaces, the doctor usually recommends changing that. Somebody who sits all day at work might be able to alternate between sitting and standing, for example.
- Exercise – Exercises targeting the core and lower body help to keep everything stretched out and loose. Regular exercise can prevent future flareups by reducing the likelihood that bursa will become inflamed.
- Weight Loss – Excess weight can be a big contributor to ischial bursitis. As such, patients are often advised to try to lose weight. A healthy weight helps the body better manage everything from inflammation to immune system response.
If you routinely experience pain in the lower buttocks that radiates into your legs, you could be suffering from ischial bursitis. Assess your daily routine. Look at how often you sit and the amount of exercise you get. Also be honest about your weight.
The good news is that ischial bursitis is very treatable. Inflammation that causes bursitis pain can be reduced through noninvasive treatments. And once the inflammation is gone, the pain should subside as well.