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Causes of Pain in the Buttock Area

author image Martin Hughes
Martin Hughes is a chiropractic physician, health writer and the co-owner of a website devoted to natural footgear. He writes about health, fitness, diet and lifestyle. Hughes earned his Bachelor of Science in kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and his doctoral degree from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Ore.
Causes of Pain in the Buttock Area
Causes of Pain in the Buttock Area Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Pain in the buttock area can be caused by buttock structures, or it can be referred from other areas of the body, such as the lower back. Buttock-related pain can range from mild to severe, and, in some cases, it can significantly affect a person's quality of life and ability to perform activities of daily living.

Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis syndrome can cause pain in the buttock area. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, coccydynia is a neuromuscular condition that manifests when the piriformis muscle squeezes the sciatic nerve--the body's largest nerve. The piriformis is a pear-shaped muscle that connects the base of the spine with the thigh bone. The piriformis helps turn the thigh outward. In most people, the sciatic nerve runs underneath the piriformis, although in some individuals the nerve pierces the muscle. Because of the proximity of the piriformis muscle to the sciatic nerve, a tight piriformis muscle can compress the nerve and cause pain, numbness or tingling in the buttocks and along the nerve as it travels along the posterior thigh or the back of the leg. The NINDS states that piriformis syndrome may be exacerbated by long periods of sitting.

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Sacroiliitis can cause pain in the buttock area. MayoClinic.com reports that sacroiliitis is an inflammatory condition that affects a person's sacroiliac joints. The sacroiliac joints connect the base of the spine with the hip bones. Sacroiliitis is characterized by pain in the buttocks or lower back. Sacroiliitis-related pain may radiate down the back of one or both legs, and it's often made worse by periods of prolonged standing or by stair climbing. Sacroiliitis can also be exacerbated by bearing more weight on one leg than the other, running, or assuming extreme spinal postures. Sacroiliitis is associated with spondyloarthropathies--a collection of diseases characterized by spinal inflammatory arthritis. Sacroiliitis can be caused by traumatic injury, osteoarthritis, pregnancy or infection of the sacroiliac joint.


Coccydynia, or tailbone pain, can cause pain in the buttock area. According to the Cleveland Clinic--one of the top four hospitals in the United States--coccydynia is pain around the coccyx. Although the cause of most coccydynia is unknown, it can be caused by trauma, such as falls and childbirth, along with abnormal tailbone mobility, infection, tumor and fracture. Common signs and symptoms associated with coccydynia include pain with pressure to the tailbone, tailbone pain when shifting from sitting to standing, pain during defecation, pain during sexual intercourse and a deep ache in the tailbone. Coccydynia-related symptoms often improve when pressure is removed from the tailbone, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Many people with coccydynia feel relief when standing or walking. A person with coccydynia typically responds well to conservative care methods. A customized seat cushion with a cutout in the middle can be helpful, as it promotes healing by decreasing pressure on the affected area.

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