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What causes buttock pain when sitting?

by Assessor

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 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:

  • over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • exercises and stretches
  • heat packs
  • physical therapy
  • pain relief injections
  • a procedure to prevent nerves in the back from sending pain signals
  • surgery

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
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Treatment may include:

  • OTC pain relievers
  • stretches
  • gentle exercise
  • cold and heat therapy

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


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.


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.

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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:

  • a pilonidal cyst
  • arthritis
  • bursitis
  • muscle strain
  • sacroiliac joint dysfunction
  • degenerative disk disease

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