Do you have an annoying tingling in your butt and are wondering if this means early multiple sclerosis?

If something is tingling, a nerve is always involved. Multiple sclerosis is a disease involving the central nervous system.

A tingling in one’s behind is hard to ignore, especially if it “spreads” down the leg or comes with pain.

What is multiple sclerosis?

MS is an autoimmune disease – for unknown reasons, the body’s immune system attacks the myelin sheaths that protect nerve fibers.

Multiple sclerosis. BruceBlaus, CC BY-SA 4.0/ Wikimedia Commons

This damage causes disruption in the signals between the brain and body.

Symptoms are as follows: weakness, tremoring, twitching, unsteady gait, pain, numbness and tingling.

So what, then, about the very specific symptom of tingling in the buttocks?

“MS can affect the sensation of the lower body in many ways and cause numbness, tingling or burning pain,” says Achillefs Ntranos, MD, a board certified neurologist specializing in multiple sclerosis and demyelinating diseases, and chief neurologist with Treat MS.

“However, the area of the body or extremities that is affected is usually larger.  

“Of note, MS symptoms usually last longer than 24 hours, so tingling for a few seconds is less likely to be from MS.

“Furthermore, MS is a disorder of the central nervous system, so peripheral nerves such as the sciatic nerve are not affected by it.”

What if the butt tingling lasts a lot longer than a few seconds?

What if it’s persistent? Does this make the issue more suspicious for multiple sclerosis?

If there are no other symptoms, then the answer is no, because tingling in the butt would likely be caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve, which, as mentioned, is a peripheral nerve – and MS doesn’t affect these kinds of nerves.

However, a persistent tingling in the buttocks area wouldn’t necessarily be caused by an issue with the sciatic nerve, either. 

The sciatic nerve runs through your butt. If it’s irritated, you may feel tingling in your behind.

This is actually a common problem and is called either sciatica or piriformis syndrome.

The sciatic nerve is in red. Shutterstock/Nathan Devery

The tingling can come and go, lasting transiently, or, it can be ongoing. In piriformis syndrome, the tingling may occur only when you’re seated.

In both sciatica and piriformis syndrome, you may also feel pain – a weird kind of pain, unlike that of a sore or aching muscle.

Sciatica and piriformis syndrome have nothing to do with multiple sclerosis, though the pain may be quite intense at times.

Of course, by chance, you may have both multiple sclerosis and an irritated or “pinched” sciatic nerve.

Other Symptoms Besides Tingling in the Butt

If there are other symptoms, this can mean something other than sciatica or piriformis syndrome.
“MS can do that [cause buttocks tingling] — but it is not as frequent as sciatica or piriformis syndrome,” says Dr. Ntranos.
“One difference would be that if the butt tingling or pain is from MS, then usually patients would have changes in their bladder or bowel function, such as straining to urinate, never feeling that their bladder is empty and being constipated, or they may have reduced sexual function.
“The area between the legs, called the perineum, might also be numb and tingling if MS is the cause, which may make patients unaware that they are passing gas or stool, or may make them not feel the area well when they are wiping themselves after the bathroom.

“If these symptoms are present they should talk to their doctor as soon as they can.”

If your butt tingles every now and then, and there are no other symptoms such as pain, a burning sensation or limb weakness, or any of the other aforementioned issues, and the tingling doesn’t spread, you may have simply banged your butt at some point and can’t remember doing so.

If the tingling is annoying, and especially if there’s pain, you’ll want to get an evaluation for sciatica or nerve impingement. 

Dr. Ntranos is the chief neurologist and MS specialist at Treat MS. His goal is to combine concepts of personalized medical management with evidence-based clinical decision making to maximize the treatment benefit for each MS patient.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.


Top image: Shutterstock/Pixelato by Pearl