Pain of the Back of Thigh

Usual Suspects:

  1. The muscles of the back of the thigh
  2. The muscles of the buttock
  3. The muscles of the upper calf
  4. The muscles within the pelvis

The Imbue Pain Relief Patch temporarily relieves minor aches and pains of muscles and joints. In the diagrams below, the X’s show the locations of common trigger points (localized muscle strain), and the colored shading shows the pain pattern each trigger point produces. This pain is often several inches (or more) away from the trigger point at which it originates. When a trigger point is to blame for your pain, applying the Imbue Pain Relief Patch at the site of the trigger point sometimes yields better results than applying it where you typically feel the pain.

Pain at the Back of the Thigh Due to the Hamstrings

The hamstrings are two strong, thick bands of muscle at the back of the thigh. Both bands originate at the base of the pelvis (the ischial tuberosity or sitz bone). The outer hamstring, called biceps femoris, runs downward to attach at the outside of the knee. The inner hamstring, made up of two muscles – semitendinosus and semimembranosus – runs down the leg to attach at the inside of the knee. Both hamstrings tend to form trigger points near the middle of their length.

Trigger points in the outer hamstring are shown (as X’s) on the left leg in the diagram. They produce pain (as shown by the red shading) at the back of the thigh and focused behind the knee. Trigger points in the inner hamstring are shown on the right leg in the diagram. They, too, produce pain at the back of the thigh that tends to be focused near the lower buttock.

To examine this area for trigger points, you will need the help of a friend or the use of a tool such as a Thera Cane or a small ball, such as a lacrosse ball. You can lie face down and have a friend press firmly, following several lines from the crease at the base of the buttock down to almost the knee, starting first near the inside edge of the thigh and then working outward to the outer edge of the back of the thigh. The Thera Cane or ball are also easy to use. With the ball, sit on a hard, flat chair or bench, and place the ball under the crease at the base of the buttock. From there, slowly roll or reposition the ball to cover the area described above (see diagram). You may find it helps to lean your forearm on top of your thigh to get more pressure on the ball. If you find any areas of significant tenderness, do some massage here with the Thera Cane or ball, and apply the Imbue Pain Relief Patch.

Pain at the Back of the Thigh Due to the Muscles of the Buttock

Two muscles in the buttock region can often cause pain that spreads into the back of the thigh – gluteus minimus and piriformis. The other two gluteal muscles – gluteus maximus and gluteus medius – could potentially do this also (see the Pain Tracker section on lower back and buttock pain) but their pain mainly occurs in the buttock itself. To examine this area for trigger points, you will need the help of a friend or the use of a tool such as a Thera Cane or a small ball (lacrosse or tennis ball). If using a ball, you can lie on the floor and put the ball under your buttock in the area you wish to press on.


The piriformis is a muscular band that runs from the edge of the sacrum (the triangular bone at the base of the spine) outward to the top of the thigh bone (the greater trochanter of the femur). While it usually produces pain in the hip and buttock area (see red shading in the diagram), its pain can also spread down the back of the thigh. Also, by squeezing the sciatic nerve, it can cause intense nervy pain all the way down the leg. The two primary trigger point regions of the piriformis are just against the outside edge of the sacrum (see inner X in diagram) and just inside the back of the hip joint (outer X), though it is worth examining the whole area inside the box. If you find a painful spot here that produces (or alleviates) the pain in the back of your thigh, do some massage and place the Imbue Pain Relief Patch here.

Gluteus Minimus:

The diagram on the right shows the usual locations of trigger points in this muscle, (at the red and blue X’s). Trigger points at the red X’s produce the pain pattern indicated by the red shading, and those at the blue X’s produce pain in the region of the blue shading. The red pain pattern tends to be more along the outer surface of the thigh (and even down the lower leg). The blue pain pattern (more likely to produce pain at the back of the thigh) comes from points just beneath the crest of the pelvis (iliac crest) at the top of the buttock. Examine this area thoroughly. If you find a painful spot, do some massage and apply the Imbue Pain Relief Patch here.

Pain at the Back of the Thigh Due to the Gastrocnemius

The gastrocnemius gives the characteristic bulge to the upper portion of the calf. It forms trigger points in several places, each with its own pain pattern. The one that can cause pain at the back of the thigh is located a few inches down from the knee crease. It is usually slightly to the inside of the calf, rather than at the very back. This trigger point refers pain mostly to the calf itself, and even into the arch of the foot, but it may also produce pain upward into the thigh. Press firmly, working several inches in all directions. If you find a painful spot in this area, apply the Imbue Pain Relief Patch here.

Pain at the Back of the Thigh Due to the Muscles Within the Pelvis

These muscles are mostly inaccessible from outside the body, but there is specialized massage and other forms of bodywork geared at releasing tension in these areas. If you suspect deep pelvic muscular tension, or your search for a cause of longstanding pain high at the back of the thigh has not yielded any answers, it may be worthwhile to seek out a practitioner who specializes in this kind of work. Tension in these “intrapelvic” muscles can also cause sexual dysfunction, urinary and bowel problems, pain with intercourse, and other issues. Addressing the cause can often yield rapid benefits.

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