Symptoms A-Z

Butt Numbness Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

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.

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Butt Numbness and Tingling Explained

We’ve all experienced the nuisance of standing up after a period of prolonged sitting and noticing that our butt has gone numb. After some walking and a bit of stretching the temporary butt numbness usually subsides. Sometimes, however, you can have butt numbness that persists for longer or that came on suddenly without any obvious cause. Sensation in all body parts relies on the function of a vast connection of nerves. When nerve damage occurs and sensation is decreased, you experience numbness that can also be associated with other symptoms.

Common characteristics of butt numbness

Butt numbness can be alarming and depending on the cause can be:

  • 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 one buttock feels more numb than the other.
  • Gradual: This means the butt numbness got worse 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:

  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Stinging
  • Pins-and-needles feeling
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty standing or walking
  • Paralysis: This means an inability to move one or both hips or legs.
  • Shooting pain: Back pain may or may not shoot down the back of your legs

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.

Inflammatory causes

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 which leads to autoimmune inflammatory disease [1].

  • 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. Some infections cause numbness that spreads either from the feet upwards toward the head or the head downwards towards the feet.
  • Autoimmune disease: An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system — which usually works to protect you against diseases and infections — instead starts to attack the healthy cells that make up your body [1]. Sometimes these autoimmune diseases can affect the spinal cord or nerves leading to and through your buttocks which can lead to butt numbness.

Traumatic causes

Trauma, irritation, or damage to either the spine or the sciatic nerve, which is located in the lower back next to the muscles of the buttocks, can also result in butt numbness [2]. Spinal trauma can be due to a misalignment of the disks that make up part of your backbone, narrowing of the canal through which your spinal cord travels through your backbone or irritation due to arthritis of the joints that make up the backbone. 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 can lead to buttock numbness accompanied by a shock-like or burning sensation with tingling, numbness, and weakness of the leg(s) and/or thigh(s).

2 Possible 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

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Piriformis syndrome

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.

Rarity: Common

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

At-home treatment

Some causes of butt numbness can be managed with at home treatment while others require evaluation and treatment by a medical professional.

  • Rest: Some causes of butt numbness, especially those associated with injury or straining like spinal stenosis, slipped disk, and sciatica, improve with rest.
  • Exercise: While some causes of butt numbness improve with rest, others like arthritis may improve over time with steady and gradually increasing exercise or stretching. 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 inflammatory causes of butt numbness, especially if your butt numbness is related to sore muscles or swelling from injury, causing irritation of the nerves within your buttock(s).

When to see a doctor

The urgency with which you should see a medical professional depends on some factors like the duration, severity, and timing of your symptoms. Make an appointment with a primary care provider and try to be evaluated in the next few days if you notice 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 symptoms or factors and 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.

Prevention

While many causes of butt numbness cannot be prevented, the following healthy practices can reduce the chances of butt numbness from preventable causes like a vitamin deficiency or strain-related injury to the spine:

  • Healthy, balanced diet: Butt numbness associated with nutritional deficiencies can be treated and prevented with a diet with enough nutrients and 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 [3].
  • 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. When lifting a heavy object, keep a wide base of support, squat down by bending your knees and hips to the object, and slowly lift it while maintaining a straight back [4].

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 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 that can either cause involuntary bowel or bladder 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, as this is a sign of an emergency.

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 of the spine or if the damage is to a nerve that is traveling to one side of your body but not the other, 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 by a medical professional 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 very temporary butt numbness that goes away with some stretching or moving around. Other causes of butt numbness like compression of the spine may require more advanced treatments like physical therapy or even surgery to completely resolve. Other causes may require medications to improve. Since the causes of butt numbness are so varied, you should be evaluated by a medical professional 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, standing from a seated position and maintain balance.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Butt Numbness

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • 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?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

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Butt Numbness Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced butt numbness have also experienced:

  • 16% Buttocks Numbness
  • 7% Lower Back Pain
  • 4% Foot Numbness

People who have experienced butt numbness were most often matched with:

  • 70% Cauda Equina Syndrome (Rapid-Onset)
  • 30% Piriformis Syndrome

People who have experienced butt numbness had symptoms persist for:

  • 37% Less than a day
  • 23% Less than a week
  • 21% Over a month

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Butt Numbness Symptom Checker

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References

  1. Autoimmune diseases. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Updated October 23, 2018. MedlinePlus Link
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff. Sciatic nerve. The Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic Link
  3. B vitamins. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Updated August 1, 2018. MedlinePlus Link
  4. Blahd WH Jr, Husney A, Rigg J, eds. Proper lifting technique. MyHealth.Alberta.ca. Updated March 21, 2017. MyHealth.Alberta.ca Link

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.