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Gluteal massage gone wrong

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of PainScience.com: a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Do you joke with your massage therapist about how they are “torturing” you? It’s all fun and games until someone loses a buttock. I’ve added a case study of a butt injury from “aggressive” massage to my article about massage harms and risks:

People think of massage therapy as a “safe” therapy, and of course it mostly is. But things can go wrong, or at least a bit sour, especially with “deep tissue” massage. For instance, Sun et al. reported a case of a “large buttocks hematoma” in an older patient directly caused by “aggressive” gluteal massage, intended to relieve back pain, leading to a hospital stay and surgery to resolve substantial swelling and leg numbness. Although that was an unusually severe example, blood vessels do get more fragile with age, and strong massage can break them — sometimes even the big ones.