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Upper Buttock Pain

Upper buttock pain is pain that is experienced over the upper part of the buttock. There are many potential causes for upper buttock pain. Explore the information under each tab below to understand more about the anatomy of the area and things that may go wrong.

Common conditions associated with upper buttock pain:

Pain experienced in the upper buttock region may be related to:

  • joints of the hip & pelvis, where two bones meet
  • ‘soft tissues’, non-bony structures, such as muscle
  • bones, such as the femur (thigh bone) or bones of the pelvis
  • the lower back
  • nerves that run through and around the hip & pelvis
  • pelvic organs or blood vessels, or other health issues masquerading as hip pain

What is pain?

Pain is an experience that the brain creates for the purposes of stimulating you to change your behaviour or seek help for a perceived problem with your body.

Irritating or potentially damaging stimuli in your body (like high levels of pressure, tension or extremes of temperature) activate sense receptors (danger sensors) in the area. Signals from danger sensors in the body travel through the nervous system to the brain. Here the information is processed and the brain sometimes (but not always) produces a pain experience.

If you would like to read more about understanding what pain isplease click here.

Joint Related

Joint-Related Pain


A joint is formed where two bones are joined together, with varying amounts of movement occurring between them. Pain may be related to the structures involved in the function and support of a joint. The sacroiliac joint is the joint most likely to be related to pain in the upper buttock region (Figures 1.1 & 1.2).

What is pain?

Pain is an experience that the brain creates for the purposes of stimulating you to change your behaviour or seek help for a perceived problem with your body.

Irritating or potentially damaging stimuli in your body (like high levels of pressure, tension or extremes of temperature) activate sense receptors (danger sensors) in the area. Signals from danger sensors in the body travel through the nervous system to the brain. Here the information is processed and the brain sometimes (but not always) produces a pain experience.

If you would like to read more about understanding what pain isplease click here.

The sacroiliac joints (sometimes abbreviated to SIJs or SI joints) are the joints formed between the two bony wings of the pelvis and the tailbone (sacrum) (Figure 1.2).

  • These joints are designed for stability with extremely little movement capacity. They are flat or “plane” joints though the surfaces of the joint are not completely flat. They are irregular or bumpy to allow some interlocking of the bones for the stability they need.
  • They are also surrounded by some of the strongest ligaments in the body (Figure 1.3 &1.4). This stable joint structure allows transfer of large forces between the body and the legs during walking, running and jumping.
  • Some movement occurs in these joints during walking and running, where one leg is moving forward and the other backward, resulting in a small amount of joint rotation.
  • Movement at the sacroiliac joints will also occur during extremes of hip or back motion, although most scientists agree that the amount of movement that occurs at the sacroiliac joints is very small.

Pain related to the Sacroiliac Joint

Pain and functional difficulties related to the sacroiliac joint:

  • most commonly develop during pregnancy or childbirth
  • may occur after a major trauma, such as a hard fall onto the bottom or a large force through one leg, for example being dragged by one leg after a fall from a horse or water-skis
  • may develop over time, related to certain types of repetitive forces
  • can develop when there is a problem with the lower back or hip joints, transferring extra load across the sacroiliac joint

Sacroiliac pain and dysfunction are however, greatly over-diagnosed. While true instability does occur, it is relatively rare and there are many people living unnecessarily in fear, related to a diagnosis of ‘pelvic instability’ or being told their pelvis keeps moving ‘out of place’.

Here are a few facts about the sacroiliac joint that may dispel some of this fear:

  • The structure of the sacroiliac joint makes it a very stable joint
  • Asymmetry in the human body is normal
    • Differences in tightness of the muscles that join on to either side of the pelvis occur naturally, related to leg or arm dominance, sport and occupation. This asymmetry may cause an appearance of asymmetry in the resting position and movement of the pelvis. This is normal and has not been linked to harm.
    • Differences in leg length of up to around 1cm are common and normal. Leg length difference may also produce an appearance of asymmetry in pelvic position in standing.
  • A click occurring in a joint does not mean it has moved ‘in or out of position’. All of us click and pop, some just a little more than others. These are usually normal joint or tendon sounds.

There are also causes for sacroiliac joint pain that are related to other general health conditions. Sacroiliitis refers to an inflammation of the SIJ’s associated with a systemic inflammatory disease such as Ankylosing Spondylitis. You can read more about non-musculoskeletal causes of hip and pelvic pain here.

Pain related to the sacroiliac joints is most commonly experienced in the upper buttock region, usually right over the joint, in the area of the dimples at the top of the buttocks. As the pelvis is a ring joined at the front by the pubic symphysis, problems with the sacroiliac joints are sometimes associated with pain in the groin region.There are many other causes for groin pain however, so visit our Pain Locator Map to read about different factors that may be related to pain in each of these regions.

Your Hip Pain Professional will be able to assess your sacroiliac joints to determine if they are likely to be the cause of your pain. If you have sacroiliac joint related pain, you may require:

  • advice on modifications to activities or positions – e.g. workplace set-up
  • an exercise program to provide optimal muscle support around the joints
  • advice regarding short term bracing or taping–only appropriate for short term use and usually only for severe pain and during late stage pregnancy or after trauma
  • an injection for short term relief of severe pain, while you work on your rehabilitation
Soft Tissue Related
Bone Related
Back Related
Peripheral Nerve
Other causes

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