Buttock Pain

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What is buttock pain?

Buttock pain includes any type of discomfort in the area of the buttocks. The buttocks are made up of three gluteal muscles behind the pelvis that help support the body while standing and enable many movements of the legs, hips and trunk. The buttocks also contain many nerves and blood vessels, while layers of fat cushion the pelvis when you are sitting.

Injury of one or more of the gluteal muscles, especially the gluteus maximus, which is the body’s largest muscle, can cause buttock pain. Buttock pain may also be caused by diseases, disorders and conditions of the anus or rectum, as well as other nearby regions, such as the pelvis, tailbone, groin, and lower back.

Anyone can be affected by buttock pain. Buttock pain can be described in a variety of ways, such as pressure, numbness, tingling or burning. Depending on the cause, buttock pain can begin suddenly and disappear relatively quickly, such as from a contusion due to a minor injury. Buttock pain can also develop with time and occur intermittently, such as with sciatica.

Some causes of buttock pain can be serious or lead to serious complications. Seek prompt medical care if you have unexplained buttock pain or you are concerned about the pain. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have fallen and have sudden, severe buttock, hip or back pain, an inability to walk, or deformity of the leg or hip.

What other symptoms might occur with buttock pain?

Buttock pain may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Additional symptoms that may occur along with buttock pain include:

  • Bruising

  • Limited movement of the back or hip

  • Limping

  • Lower back pain

  • Muscle weakness or numbness

  • Pain, aches or stiffness in the hips, legs or groin

  • Snapping, popping or grinding sensation of the hip or lower back

  • Swelling (edema) of the buttocks

  • Temperature changes including warmth or burning sensations

Symptoms that might indicate a serious condition

In some cases, buttock pain may occur with other symptoms that might indicate a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Bloody stools or heavy rectal bleeding

  • Inability to walk or put weight on your leg or hip

  • Sudden deformity of the hip or thigh

  • Weakness or paralysis  of the leg or hip

What causes buttock pain?

Buttock pain can result from a variety of factors. For example, sitting for extended periods can cause pressure and numbness within the buttocks. Strenuous activity combined with inadequate stretching or failure to properly warm up or cool down can lead to painful sprains and strains of the buttocks.

Buttock pain can also develop because of other injuries as well as certain diseases and disorders within the buttocks or in other related areas, such as the pelvis, tailbone (coccyx), hips, upper legs, and lower back. Pain in the buttocks caused by a disease or condition in another area is called referred pain.

Injury and activity-related causes of buttock pain

Buttock pain can be caused by injuries or trauma related to accidents, activities or exercise including:

  • Bone fractures and dislocations, such as that of the tailbone (coccyx), hip, pelvis, lower spine, and femur (thigh bone)

  • Contusions, abrasions and lacerations of the buttock, hip or rectal area

  • Muscle cramps in the gluteal muscles

  • Sprains (stretched or torn ligaments) of the hip or lower back (lumbar sprain)

  • Strains (stretched or torn tendons or muscles), such as a groin pull, strained lower back, or a pulled hamstring muscle in the back of the thigh

  • Tendinitis (tendon inflammation)

Diseases and conditions causing buttock pain

Buttock pain can also be caused by diseases, disorders and other conditions including:

  • Anal abscess (infected, pus-filled cavity near the anus)

  • Anal fissure (small, painful tear in the anus)

  • Arthritis of the hip

  • Bone cancer of the pelvis

  • Bursitis (inflammation of a bursa sac that cushions a joint). Bursitis can be caused by sitting for long periods on hard surfaces.

  • Compartment syndrome (painful condition caused by pressure within muscles that reduces vital blood flow to nerves and muscles)

  • Fibromyalgia (chronic condition causing pain, stiffness and tenderness of the muscles, tendons and joints)

  • Hemorrhoids (swollen, inflamed veins in the anus or rectum)

  • Pilonidal cyst (benign sac that forms on the tailbone that can become infected and filled with pus)

  • Piriformis syndrome (pain, tingling or numbness in the buttocks caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve)

  • Sciatica (burning, shooting pain running from the buttocks down the back of the leg due to nerve compression caused by lumbar disc degeneration, tumors, or infection)

  • Shingles (herpes zoster, a painful nerve condition caused by the chickenpox virus)

  • Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal, creating pressure on the spinal cord or nerves)

Questions for diagnosing the cause of buttock pain

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or health care provider will ask you several questions related to your symptoms including:

  • In what part of the buttocks do you feel pain or discomfort?

  • When did the pain start?

  • How long does the pain last?

  • Are there any activities that cause or aggravate the pain?

  • Are you experiencing any other symptoms?

What are the potential complications of buttock pain?

Complications of buttock pain vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder and condition. Buttock pain caused by minor strains or overuse usually responds to home treatments, such as rest, ice, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications.

In some cases, untreated buttock pain due to serious conditions, such as a spine or hip fracture, can lead to complications. You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Complications of ongoing, untreated buttock pain include:

  • Chronic pain

  • Decreased athletic performance

  • Permanent disability

  • Poor quality of life

  • Reduced mobility, weakness or paralysis of the legs, back, and hips

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Dec 13
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Anal Abscess/Fistula. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS). http://www.fascrs.org/patients/conditions/anal_abscess_fistula/
  2. Fracture of the Pelvis. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00223
  3. Rectal Complaints. American College of Gastroenterology. http://www.acg.gi.org/patients/pdfs/CommonGIProblems3.pdf