You may not think your buttocks could signal a problem with your spine, but it’s a common experience. Buttock pain could reflect injuries in the gluteus muscles and tendons. But if the pain persists, worsens, or affects your back or legs, chances are you have a lower back problem, often a pinched nerve.
Without prompt treatment, nerve damage can become permanent or lead to serious complications, so don’t wait long to seek help from neurology expert, Richard B. Kim, MD. He determines the true source of your buttock pain and provides personalized treatment that promotes healing and relieves the pain — no matter where it appears.
Problems in your lower back (lumbar spine) can cause pain in your buttocks because the two body areas share nerve pathways. Feeling back pain in your buttocks can occur two ways:
When the source of your pain is in one body area but you feel it in a different place, you have referred pain. If you develop a condition in your lower spine, whether pinched nerves, muscle strain, or disc problems, you may experience the pain in your buttocks instead of your back.
Referred pain works in both directions. A strained muscle or other injury in your thigh, buttock, or hip may cause pain in your lower back.
A second type of pain, radiating pain, occurs when sensations originating in a damaged spinal nerve travel along the nerve, shooting from your back into your buttocks. In some cases, the pain won’t stop at your buttocks. For example, sciatica refers to pain that runs from your lower back through your buttocks and into your leg.
A damaged spinal disc isn’t the only possible cause of buttock pain. These are a few of the most common lower back conditions that can lead to referred or radiating pain:
A herniated disc occurs when the disc’s strong outer cover develops a weak area or tear. A weakened area allows the gel-like core to bulge out through the side of the disc, while a tear lets the inner substance leak out.
A bulge pushes against the nearby nerves. If the gel leaks out, it irritates the nerves. In both cases, the nerves become inflamed and may cause referred or radiating pain in your buttock, thigh, calf, foot, and/or toes.
Degenerative disc disease occurs over the years as the spinal discs dehydrate and wear out. The disc gradually flattens and stops cushioning the vertebrae. As a result, you develop spinal instability, pinched nerves, and pain that may affect your buttocks.
A vertebra can slip out of its normal position when you have a fracture or crack that weakens the bone or a damaged disc. Like other spine problems, a slipped vertebrae can compress spinal nerves and stress the supporting muscles and ligaments.
Spinal stenosis refers to narrowing of the openings in the vertebra, including the spinal canal and foraminal openings. Any of these openings can become narrower due to herniated discs, degenerated discs, and slipped vertebra.
Your spinal cord travels through the spinal canal. Foraminal openings allow nerves to leave and return to the spinal cord. As the openings narrow, you end up with damaged nerves that may cause buttock pain.
The SI joints connect the base of your spine to your pelvic bones. Most joints exist to create movement, but the SI joints are different. They limit movement and create stability.
SI joint dysfunction occurs when the supporting ligaments stretch, the joint weakens, or you develop problems in your lower spine. This condition is notorious for causing pain in your lower back and buttocks rather than in the joint.
If you have lower back, buttock, or leg pain, don’t wait to schedule an evaluation with Richard B. Kim, MD. Call the nearest office or request an appointment online today.