Sciatic pain travels down the buttocks because the nerve roots travels down the buttocks, through the legs and to the ankle and foot, explains WebMD. Pain in the buttocks occurs because the sciatic nerve in the back is pinched or compressed.
When pain occurs because the sciatic nerve is injured, the condition is called sciatica, states WebMD. Sciatica also causes numbness and tingling in the lower extremities. This condition usually occurs when a disc in the vertebrae becomes herniated, pinching the sciatic nerve. Occasionally it is a result of arthritis, bone spurs or spinal stenosis. Only rarely is sciatica caused by tumors.
Not only do the buttocks, legs and feet hurt and tingle as symptoms of sciatica, but sitting for long periods of time can worsen the pain and lying down can improve it, says WebMD. The only sure diagnosis for sciatica is an exam, although X-rays and MRIs are used to determine the source of the problem and rule out tumor growth. Sciatica can resolve itself without any medical treatment or intervention. An individual can relieve pain by alternating between heat and ice packs for 15 minutes every couple of hours. Sitting should be avoided, as this can cause further pain. Some severe cases require physical therapy and steroid injections.