What Causes Butt Numbness or Tingling & How to Find Relief
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Experiencing a numb butt can be caused from sitting too long which can feel as if your buttock is "asleep". Other causes of butt numbness include issues with spinal muscles which can also cause numbness in the lower back. Read below for more information on causes, related symptoms, and treatment options.
Butt numbness and tingling explained
You've probably experienced the strange sensation of butt numbness when you finally stand up. After your body gets used to standing, the feeling usually resides. Sometimes, however, butt numbness can last longer or come on suddenly. Sensation in all body parts relies on a vast connection of nerves. When nerves are impaired, you experience numbness and other possible symptoms.
Common characteristics of butt numbness
Butt numbness may be described as:
- Persistent (continuous) or intermittent (comes and goes)
- Acute (sudden and temporary) or chronic (continuous or recurring)
- Temporary or permanent
- Symmetric: This means both buttocks feel equally numb.
- Asymmetric: This means the feeling of numbness is stronger in one buttock than the other.
- Gradual: This means the butt numbness is worsening over time.
- Sudden-onset: If you noticed sudden numbness in one or both of your buttocks, this could be a medical emergency and you should seek immediate medical attention.
Common accompanying symptoms
Butt numbness can be associated with other changes in sensation or symptoms in the butt, groin, or thigh area, including the following.
- Paralysis: This means you can't move one or both hips or legs.
- Shooting pain: You may experience back pain shooting down your legs.
- Pins-and-needles feeling
- Difficulty standing or walking
What causes numbness and tingling in the buttocks?
Butt numbness is typically the result of injury, compression, or irritation of a nerve or a branch of one of the nerves in your butt that goes to your legs and feet. Within the buttocks is a large nerve, called the sciatic nerve, which branches as it travels down the thigh and legs to give sensation throughout the thigh, leg, and foot. Thus, causes that result in butt numbness are typically related to this nerve and can result in symptoms further down the thigh and leg as well.
Butt numbness can be caused by inflammation, which is the body’s normal response to injury or infection. Sometimes the body’s immune system kicks in when it’s not supposed to.
- Bacterial or viral infection: Bacterial infections, like Lyme disease, and viral infections from the chickenpox virus, which causes Shingles, can cause numbness in one or both buttocks.
- Autoimmune disease: An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system starts to attack healthy cells. Sometimes these autoimmune diseases can affect the spinal cord or nerves leading to and through your buttocks.
Trauma, irritation, or damage to the spine or the sciatic nerve can also result in butt numbness. Spinal trauma can be due to a misalignment of the disks that make up part of your backbone, narrowing of the spinal canal, or irritation due to arthritic processes in the area. Abnormal growths or tumors can also compress or irritate the spine or nerves that leave the spine and travel through the buttocks. The sciatic nerve can be irritated or damaged in similar ways and lead to buttock numbness accompanied by a burning sensation, tingling, numbness, and weakness of the leg(s) and/or thigh(s).
2 butt numbness conditions
The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced butt numbness. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.
Cauda equina syndrome (rapid-onset)
Although leg pain is common and usually goes away without surgery, cauda equina syndrome, a rare disorder affecting the bundle of nerve roots (cauda equina) at the lower (lumbar) end of the spinal cord, is a surgical emergency.
Rarity: Ultra rare
Top Symptoms: lower back pain, back pain that shoots to the butt, back pain that shoots down the leg, leg weakness, thigh numbness
Urgency: Emergency medical service
The two piriformis muscles, left and right, each run from the base of the pelvis to the top of the thighbone. The two sciatic nerves, left and right, are each attached to the spine and run down between the pelvic bone and the piriformis muscle to the back of each leg.
If the piriformis muscle is damaged through sudden trauma, or through overuse as in sports, the resulting inflammation or spasm of the muscle can trap the sciatic nerve between the pelvic bone and the muscle.
Piriformis syndrome is most often found in women over 30.
Symptoms include pain over one or both sides of the low back, and shooting pain (sciatica) down one or both legs.
Diagnosis is made through physical examination and sometimes imaging such as CT scan or MRI.
Treatment involves rest; over-the-counter, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; physical therapy; therapeutic injections; and, rarely, surgery.
The best prevention is a good regimen of stretching before exercise, to help prevent damage to the piriformis.
Top Symptoms: pelvis pain, butt pain, pain when passing stools, leg numbness, hip pain
Symptoms that never occur with piriformis syndrome: involuntary defecation, leaking urine
Urgency: Primary care doctor
At-home and professional treatment for a numb butt
The following at-home treatments may provide relief.
- Rest: Injury or strains, like spinal stenosis, slipped disks, and sciatica, improve with rest.
- Exercise: Arthritis may improve over time by steadily increasing your exercise or stretching routine. Exercise increases blood flow to the joints and nerves, which can help encourage healing from inflammation.
- Heating or cooling pads: Both warmth or coolness can help soothe inflammation, especially from sore muscles or swelling.
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with a physician promptly if you experience the following.
- Persistent butt numbness
- Worsening butt numbness
- Butt numbness that is gradually spreading: Such as up the back or down the legs
- Butt numbness associated with a shock-like or burning sensation: Along with tingling, numbness, and weakness of the leg(s) and/or thigh(s)
When it is an emergency
You should seek immediate medical attention if your butt numbness is associated with any of the following as it may indicate a spinal cord injury.
- Sudden-onset butt numbness
- Difficulty walking
- Hip or leg paralysis (inability to move)
- Severe back pain
- Inability to urinate, pass gas and/or move the bowels
- Inability to control bowel or bladder movements: Urinating or soiling yourself, incontinence
- Numbness in the saddle region: This is the area of the body that would be in contact with a saddle when sitting on a horse, including the groin, buttocks, genitals, and upper inner thighs.
While many causes of butt numbness cannot be prevented, the following healthy practices can reduce your risk.
- Healthy, balanced diet: Nutritional deficiencies are preventable with enough vitamins, especially the B vitamins like thiamine, B12, and folic acid. B vitamins can be found in fish, poultry, meat, eggs, dairy products, leafy green vegetables, beans, and peas.
- Proper form when lifting heavy items: Multiple causes of butt numbness can be due to injury to the spine or nerves of the lower back, often during heavy lifting. Keep your feet spread shoulder-width apart, squat down and bring your knees and hips to the object, and slowly lift with a straight back.
FAQs about butt numbness
Why am I having trouble going to the bathroom with my butt numbness?
One cause of butt numbness is called cauda equina, or the compression of a collection of nerves located at the bottom of the spinal cord. These nerves provide sensation to the bladder, bowel, and legs. A loss of sensation after damage to these nerves can lead to butt numbness along with the inability to control bowel or bladder function, causing leakage or the inability to urinate, pass gas, or have a bowel movement. If you notice butt numbness with bowel or bladder dysfunction, call 911 immediately.
Why is my butt numbness worse on one side?
The spine gives off nerves that travel to both sides of the body. If the cause of your butt numbness is damage or injury to the spine that is more pronounced on one side, or if a nerve traveling on only one side is damaged, this will lead to butt numbness that is worse on one side.
How long will my butt numbness last?
The length of time your butt numbness will last depends on the cause. Sometimes butt numbness can be temporary after a long period of sitting without moving. Other causes of butt numbness lead to more prolonged or even permanent symptoms, especially if they are due to severe damage to the nerves leading to your buttock(s). If your butt numbness persists, you should be evaluated to determine the diagnosis and the best course of treatment.
Will my butt numbness resolve on its own?
It depends. Some causes of butt numbness lead to temporary butt numbness that goes away with some stretching or moving around. Other causes of butt numbness, like the compression of the spine, may require more advanced treatments like physical therapy or even surgery. Other causes may require medications to improve. Since the causes of butt numbness vary, you should be evaluated to determine the diagnosis and the best course of treatment.
Why am I having difficulty walking with my butt numbness?
The muscles in your buttocks are incredibly powerful and function to help you move your hips and thighs and support your body while standing. The nerves that carry sensation to your buttocks also give them the ability to move, so when these nerves are damaged, you can experience weakness and difficulty with walking or standing from a seated position.
Questions your doctor may ask about butt numbness
- Where exactly is the numbness in the area around your buttocks?
- What is your body mass?
- Have you ever injected drugs?
- Any fever today or during the last week?
Self-diagnose with our free Buoy Assistant if you answer yes on any of these questions.
Dr. Maina graduated from Princeton University (BA, 2013) with a degree in psychology and received her medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. She is currently a resident physician in Otolaryngology at the University of Pennsylvania affiliated hospitals. After graduating from Princeton, she spent a year researching embryonic gene expression with the Center for Research on Reproduction and Women's Health at UPenn. She also received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study abnormal innate immune responses and taste-related genes in chronic sinus infections. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, listening to podcasts, and finding new DIY décor projects.
- Autoimmune diseases. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Updated October 23, 2018. MedlinePlus Link
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Sciatic nerve. The Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic Link
- B vitamins. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Updated August 1, 2018. MedlinePlus Link
- Blahd WH Jr, Husney A, Rigg J, eds. Proper lifting technique. MyHealth.Alberta.ca. Updated March 21, 2017. MyHealth.Alberta.ca Link