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Dear Dr. Roach: My partner and I are in our 60s, exercise regularly (three to five times per week), eat a well-balanced diet and are of average weight. Recently, we went bowling for two games and found ourselves sore in the area right below our buttocks. We were very sore for several days, making walking difficult, especially up and down stairs. What would have caused this area to get so sore? We named it "bowling butt" for lack of a medical term.

-- M.B.

A: Starting a new activity will often cause people to overuse some muscles that aren't used to the strain. Bowling involves forceful extension of the thigh, which is the gluteus maximus muscle, as well as other muscles in the hip to maintain stability. Two games were enough to exhaust that muscle, and the untrained muscle will often suffer small tears, which take days to heal properly. The fact that you were sore with activities involving thigh extension helps confirm the diagnosis. Some people think it's lactic acid in the muscle, but that is gone after a few hours.

Naming a disease is serious business, and I did a look for similar names in the literature. I did find "Wii butt," a pain sensation after playing games, including bowling, on the Wii video game system, but none for actual bowling. I'm not sure "bowling butt" will catch on, however.

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The arthritis booklet discusses rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and lupus, some of the known causes of Raynaud's phenomenon. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Roach -- No. 401, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 with the recipient's printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

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Dr. Keith Roach writes for North America Syndicate. Send letters to 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu.

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