There are many reasons a person may experience pain in their buttocks when sitting. The causes range from minor injuries and bruises to more severe conditions, such as sciatica and damaged disks.

People spend a lot of time sitting down, and experiencing pain in the buttocks when sitting can cause concern. Pain in this area can be temporary due to a bruise or minor injury, but it can also result from a more serious, long-term condition.

In this article, we discuss possible symptoms and causes of buttock pain, diagnosis, and when a person should seek medical attention.

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Symptoms may vary depending on the cause and location of the pain and can include:

Sometimes, the pain may go away on its own. Other times, medical treatment may be necessary.

There is a variety of reasons a person may experience pain in the buttocks when sitting down.

Conditions that may cause pain in the buttocks include:

Sciatica

Sciatica is a condition that results from compression or obstruction of the sciatic nerves. These are the two largest nerves in the body. They run from the lower spine, through the buttocks, to the knees.

Compressions due to a disk prolapse or the narrowing of the spinal canal can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing pain and discomfort.

Sciatica can cause shooting pain, tingling, or numbness anywhere from the buttocks to the legs.

People may find that symptoms worsen when they sit for long periods, move, sneeze, or cough. Sciatica often resolves in 4–6 weeks, but sometimes it can last longer.

Treatment may include:

Learn more about how sciatica causes buttock pain here.

Piriformis syndrome

The piriformis muscle is a pear-shaped muscle in the buttocks that extends from the base of the spine to the top of the thigh. Piriformis syndrome develops when the piriformis muscle irritates or compresses the sciatic nerve.

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, symptoms may include:

  • pain in the buttocks
  • pain down the back of the leg or thigh
  • pain when sitting
  • pain when walking up stairs or hills
  • reduced motion of the hip joint

Treatment may include:

Learn about nerve flossing exercises to relieve pain from sciatica and piriformis syndrome here.

Coccydynia

The coccyx is the last bone at the bottom of the spine, also known as the tailbone. Coccydynia is the medical name for pain in the tailbone. It can occur if a person injures or strains their coccyx or the surrounding muscles and ligaments.

Common causes of coccydynia may include:

  • childbirth
  • an injury or accident, such as a fall
  • repeated or prolonged strain on the coccyx
  • poor posture when sitting
  • having overweight or underweight

Symptoms may include:

  • pain that is dull and achy most of the time
  • occasional sharp pain

People may find that the pain is worse when they sit down, move from sitting to standing, stand for extended periods, or bend down.

Coccydynia can also make having sex painful, and it can make it difficult to carry out everyday activities, such as passing the stool or driving.

Treatment may include:

  • using a doughnut cushion
  • OTC pain relief medicine
  • prescription pain medication
  • injections of anti-inflammatories, such as corticosteroids, or pain relievers into the coccyx or surrounding area
  • surgery, in extreme cases

However, the primary treatment for coccydynia is time. Doctors advise people to manage the symptoms and wait for it to resolve. It usually takes a few weeks to a few months to fully heal.

Learn more about treatments for a painful tailbone here.

Bruising

Bruises are patches of discoloration that may appear on a person’s skin after an injury. Bruises happen when tiny blood vessels called capillaries break or burst underneath the skin, creating small amounts of internal bleeding.

Symptoms may include:

  • blue or purple patches on light skin
  • dark purple, brownish, or black patches on darker skin

Learn more about bruises on dark skin here.

Treatment is usually not necessary for bruises but can include:

  • OTC pain relievers
  • a cold compress or ice pack

Bruises usually go away by themselves within a couple of weeks, but people should seek medical attention if a bruise persists. A person should also contact a doctor if they have sudden unexplained bruising, as this could be due to an underlying condition.

Learn more about bone bruises here.

Other causes

Other causes of pain in the buttocks may include:

To diagnose the cause of pain in the buttocks, a doctor will likely carry out a physical examination.

Sometimes, the reasons for the pain are evident. For example, a person has had a fall or experienced another type of injury. However, if there is no obvious reason, a doctor may need to carry out tests.

They may recommend an X-ray to rule out a break or fracture, or an MRI scan or CT scan to help identify other causes of the pain, such as arthritis.

If a doctor cannot make a diagnosis, they may refer the person to a specialist, such as a rheumatologist, orthopedic specialist, or physical therapist.

Learn about what to expect during a physical exam here.

There are many things a person can try at home to relieve pain in the buttocks, including:

  • avoiding prolonged sitting
  • moving around and stretching the legs regularly
  • using a doughnut cushion
  • applying hot packs to the lower back
  • applying cold packs to the lower back
  • wearing loose-fitting clothing
  • taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

People can also try stretches or even yoga to try to relieve pain in the buttocks.

Learn about how to stretch out the tailbone here.

People should seek medical advice if:

  • the pain does not start to improve within a few weeks
  • simple home treatments do not relieve the pain
  • the pain is severe

They should also contact a healthcare professional immediately if the pain co-occurs with:

  • bleeding
  • a high temperature
  • pain in other areas than just the buttocks
  • numbness or weakness in the legs
  • difficulty controlling the bowels or bladder
  • sharp stabbing or shooting pain

It could be that the cause of the pain is a fracture or an infection and needs further medical intervention.

Learn more about high temperature and fever here.

A number of factors can cause pain in the buttocks, but most are not a cause for concern.

The pain is usually due to an injury or a fall where a person has landed on their buttocks. People may wish to try some simple home treatments to alleviate the pain.

However, if the pain does not ease over time, people should seek medical attention, as it could be a sign of an underlying condition.