Pain in Buttocks

by Sam Malone

The buttocks are made up of three muscles behind the pelvis known as the gluteal muscles. These muscles help to provide support to the body while standing and sitting. They are also known to play an important role in the movement of the legs, hips and trunk. They also contain nerves, blood vessels and layers of fat that act as a protection for the pelvis when you are sitting.

Buttock pain refers to any type of discomfort in the buttock region. There are many different reasons for buttock pain. Injury to the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the body, or any of the other gluteal muscles can cause buttock pain. Other causes of buttock pain include diseases or disorders of the anus, rectum, pelvis, tailbone, groin or lower back.

Buttock pain can be described in many ways. Some patients refer to it as numbness or tingling in their buttocks while others talk of pressure or a burning sensation in the entire region. Whatever the symptom, it may begin suddenly and disappear in the same manner or can develop gradually over time and occur periodically, depending on the cause.

The cause of buttock pain can range from the minor ones such as bruising or a muscle pull to the more serious kind, such as cancers of the pelvis and ovaries that affect the muscles in this region. Doctors usually take into consideration the intensity, duration, frequency, location, aggravating or relieving factors and the presence of any underlying disorders to diagnose the cause of buttock pain.

The causes of buttock pain include:

  • Strenuous activity can lead to painful sprains resulting in a painful swelling in the buttocks. Failure to warm up or cool down properly can also result in pain.
  • Trauma due to accidents and falls which result in fractures and dislocations of the tailbone, hip, pelvis, thigh bone and lower spine.
  • Wounds, abscesses, boils and abrasions in the buttock, hip or rectal region.
  • Muscle cramps in the gluteal muscles.
  • Sprains in the lower back or hip.
  • Strains such as groin muscle pull or a pulled hamstring muscle.
  • Diseases including bone cancer, bursitis or inflammation of the bursa sacs that protect joints, fibromyalgia, hemorrhoids, shingles, spinal stenosis and piriformis syndrome. The latter is caused by the irritation of the sciatic nerve.
  • Sciatica, which is caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve, can cause a burning, shooting pain inside the buttocks down the back of the leg.
  • Different types of arthritis which causes inflammation in the joints. One type which can cause severe pain is arthritis of the hip. Another type is known as ankylosing spondylitis, a condition causing chronic inflammation of the spine. Psoriatic arthritis is another type of arthritis that causes painful inflammation of the skin and joints.
  • Brucellosis, which is an infectious disease caused by the Brucella bacteria.
  • Hematomas in the buttock region may also cause pain. This is an accumulation of blood outside a blood vessel.
  • Paget’s disease which is a chronic bone disease caused by the irregular formation and breakdown of bone tissue.
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica, a disorder of the muscles and joints leading to stiffness and inflammation in the joints.
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction which is caused by pain in the sacroiliac joints.

Since buttock pain may be indicative of a serious problem or even lead to serious complications, you should consult your doctor immediately if you have any persistent buttock pain. Any symptom, be it severe back, hip or buttock pain or an inability to walk is cause for concern and a visit to your doctor.


  1. The piriformis syndrome.(MED:9001677)
    Parziale JR, Hudgins TH, Fishman LM
    Affiliation: Brown University, School of Medicine, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.
    Journal: American journal of orthopedics (Belle Mead, N.J.) [1996, 25(12):819-23]

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