What to Do About a Pinched Nerve in Buttocks
by Aaron Lobo on Feb 28, 2022
No matter where it is, a pinched nerve is a painful experience. One particularly difficult area to have a pinched nerve is in the buttocks- while the pain may be specific to this area, it can also often shoot down your legs, hips, or groin. This can make sitting, driving, and even sleeping difficult until you are able to find relief.
Causes of Pinched Nerve in Buttocks
In most cases, nerve pain in the buttocks and legs is caused by a condition known as sciatica, where the sciatic nerve that is near your spinal canal becomes pinched. In addition to the pain you are feeling, numbness, tingling, and weakness are also signs that sciatica is the cause of your pain. Sciatica itself is usually caused by a herniated disc or slipped disc.
Discs are rubber-like pads that sit between your vertebrae, which are the individual bones that make up your spine. When one of these discs pushes through its covering, this is known as a herniated disc, which can put pressure on nearby nerves, including the sciatic nerve. When the disc that becomes herniated is low in the spine, this can lead to the buttocks and leg pain you are experiencing. While discs can become herniated due to an injury, they are also more likely as you age and the discs begin to break down.
When sciatica is not the cause of your buttocks nerve pain, there are a number of other conditions that may be at fault. Spinal stenosis, in which the spinal canal gradually narrows, is one possibility. Piriformis syndrome, Spondylolisthesis, and Deep gluteal syndrome are all other possibilities.
Identifying a Pinched Nerve in Buttocks
It can be hard to tell where the pain in your buttocks originates to trace it back to the sciatic nerve or other causes. For this reason, the best way to determine the cause of your pain is to visit a doctor who can perform a physical exam and imaging such as MRIs to identify the impacted nerve.
Another reason it can be difficult to identify the source of your pain is that many people experience sciatic pain in different ways. Some will feel a tingling sensation, similar to a limb being “asleep” and numbness that runs down the legs. Others may experience weakness in the legs, pain that radiates down the legs, or simply a deep pain in the buttock. Sitting for long periods of exercise can exacerbate the pain in many cases.
Treating a Pinched Nerve in Buttocks
If you are in pain, you will likely try a number of home remedies to reduce the pain. In the case of a pinched nerve, these home treatments can be beneficial:
- Ice and Heat: Ice can help swelling and inflammation, so it is likely a good option for sharp pains. This can be alternated with applying heat to relax muscles and reduce nerve compression. A combination of these two temperatures can be a great first step to alleviate pain.
- NSAIDs: These over-the-counter pain medications can help with pain management as well as inflammation.
- Pain relief orthopedic pillows that can help support the glutes and relax the muscles.
When you visit a chiropractor to address your nerve pain, they will be able to offer additional treatments to manage your pain and improve mobility. They may suggest the following as ways to address the condition:
- Muscle relaxants: If pain is not effectively managed by over-the-counter medication, a doctor can prescribe muscle relaxants to help.
- Physical therapy: This is commonly used for people suffering from sciatic nerve pain, as the exercises used can decrease pressure on the nerve and therefore reduce pain.
- Injections: Epidural steroid injections can help with inflammation of the nerve that is leading to pain. This is a more invasive medication, but these injections are considered safe and effective.
- Surgery: If symptoms continue to progress despite treatment, surgery can be performed to address your specific case.
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