A bursa is a sac filled with fluid that helps reduce friction around the joints. When the fluid inside becomes infected or irritated from too much movement, the bursa can become swollen, causing pain and difficulty in moving the affected joint. This is called bursitis.
Although bursitis usually occurs in the knee (often called “housemaid’s knee”) or elbow (usually called “tennis elbow”), it can happen in any joint in the body. When it occurs in the buttocks, it is called ischiogluetal bursitis. In this case, the bursa is located between the ischial tuberosity, found at the very base of the pelvis, and the tendon of the hamstring muscle.
Causes of Ischiogluteal Bursitis
The three major causes of bursitis are injury or trauma, infection or crystal deposits. Trauma can come in the form of too much repetitive movement or a knock to the area. For example, the trauma could be the result of an awkward fall. Sometimes an injury can cause blood to leak into the bursa which can then lead to bursitis. Infection septic bursitis, or an infection in the bursa, usually occurs in joints that are located closer to the surface of the body.
This phenomenon usually happens to men but does not seem to be a leading cause of ischiogluteal bursitis. Finally, crystal deposits can form around the joints when too much uric acid is in the body. Those that are suffering from gout often develop bursitis, since gout is also caused by crystal deposits and shares many of the same symptoms with bursitis.
Symptoms of Ischiogluteal Bursitis
Thanks to its location, the symptoms of ischiogluteal bursitis are very similar to those of tendonitis of the hamstring. Some of the symptoms will include pain and tenderness in the buttock region, pain when stretching the hamstring muscle or flexing the knee against resistance.
If it is a sports related injury, pain may slowly increase after a sprinting session. The pain may be worse when sitting for significant periods. If the bursitis is caused by an infection, the pain may be accompanied by a fever.
Diagnosis of Ischiogluteal Bursitis
Bursitis can usually be easily diagnosed by a doctor, but because the symptoms of ischiogluteal bursitis are identical to hamstring tendonitis, it may be more difficult to diagnose. One telltale sign that a patient is suffering from bursitis and not tendonitis is that tendonitis will often be relieved by deep tissue massage, while bursitis will not and may actually become worse after a massage treatment.
Treatment of Ischiogluteal Bursitis
In most cases, bursitis can be treated by simply resting the affected area and treating the swelling with an icepack or a similar cold pack. It should be noted that anytime an icepack is used, it should be wrapped in a cloth so that it doesn’t damage the skin. The doctor may also recommend a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol to reduce pain and swelling.
Those that have bursitis caused by an infection will be prescribed an antibiotic to fight the infection, which should relieve the pain in a few days. If the symptoms continue for over a week, your doctor may suggest more aggressive treatment, such as draining the bursa and injecting it with a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation and pain.