This article is a simple patient education material on tailbone pain, its causes, symptoms, ways to avoid it, and cure.
Pain in the tailbone can frustrate, irritate, and embarrass many patients while getting the treatment. This condition can be cured and is preventable if proper care is taken. Any irritation (inflammation) of the bony area (tailbone) situated between the folds of the buttocks is referred to as coccydynia.
The usual complaint is a pain at the bottom region of the back on sitting. It is usually caused by injury, pregnancy, or chronic pressure on the tailbone due to sitting long hours, for example, in the case of cab drivers. Sometimes, tailbone pain occurs in patients with chronic constipation as well. In one-third of the cases, the cause is not known.
Coccydynia is usually diagnosed based on the typical complaints and sometimes by an X-ray. A clinician can diagnose the condition by examination and eliciting tenderness in the local region. It is necessary to directly visualize the tailbone region to rule out other causes and any infection. Sometimes, infection of the hair follicles in the tailbone region can mimic coccydynia.
This condition usually frustrates patients and impairs the quality of life. Sometimes, patients feel embarrassed to get the treatment done. Treatment is usually by activity modification, anti-inflammatory medications, and local injections. Surgery is rarely indicated in non-responsive cases.
Oral anti-inflammatory medications and local application of pain gels may relieve the symptoms. Local trigger injections with low-dose steroid preparations will aid in complete relief in a majority of cases. These local injections can be given by the doctor in the outpatient department. In rare cases, surgical treatment by removal of coccyx may be required in those cases not responding to conservative methods.
Apart from an injury, the other causes of tailbone pain are:
- Infection from childbirth.
- Sitting for a prolonged period.
- Bone cancer.
- Being underweight.
You can get rid of tailbone pain by:
- Using NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to reduce swelling and pain.
- Decreasing sitting time.
- Sitting on a donut pillow or coccygeal cushion.
- Taking stool softeners to relieve pain due to constipation.
- Taking hot water to ease pain and relax the muscles.
- Applying cold and hot packs to your lower back region.
- Wearing loosely fitting clothes.
- Strengthening and stretching the muscles in your pelvis and lower back area.
Tailbone pain is not usually serious, but if there is severe pain and for a more extended period, it has to be treated by the physician because it can be a sign of an injury, or in rare cases, a sign of cancer.
You can consider sleeping on a firm mattress if you have tailbone pain. Keeping a pillow between your knees while sleeping on your side, and keeping a pillow under your knees while sleeping on your back will also help.
The following symptoms indicate a possible tailbone fracture:
- Constant dull pain in the lower back region above the buttocks.
- Pain that worsens while sitting and getting up from a sitting position.
- Severe localized pain, tenderness, and swelling felt around the tailbone area.
- Irregular bowel movements.
- Pain that increases during bowel movements.
- Pain that increases during sexual intercourse.
- Tingling or numbness in the leg.
- If the tailbone pain is due to injury, you can notice the bruise.
A small triangular bone that is present at the bottom of the spinal column is called coccyx bone. When this coccyx bone gets bruised or fractured, it will cause pain while sitting, and it gets relieved on walking. Standing and walking will help to reduce pressure on the tailbone and ease discomfort.
Chordoma is a bone cancer often formed in the bones of the spine and the skull that can spread to the coccyx bone through metastasis. It is most often seen near the tailbone called a sacral tumor. Regular radiation and chemotherapy will not be sufficient. Therefore, it can be cured by surgery. Surgery on the tailbone is quite difficult because it is present close to the spinal cord. The surgery of tailbone cancer includes excision of the tumor. It also requires the excision of the affected sacral nerve roots, which can result in sexual dysfunction, motor weakness, and permanent incontinence.
Tailbone pain can range from mild to extreme. There will be severe pain while sitting down, getting up from a sitting position, and leaning backward on the tailbone while sitting. The pain may also get worse during bowel movements, during sex, or during menstruation for women.
Sunbird pose is a simple and powerful way to strengthen your tailbone muscles, which will also stabilize the tailbone and the spine.
During childbirth, the pressure from the baby's head can cause a fracture of the coccyx or the tailbone. The pain from the fractured coccyx can be quite severe, which can last for a few months. Many women get relief within two months by physical therapy, applying ice packs, or taking painkillers.
Tailbone pain is commonly seen in women during pregnancy and after delivery. This can be due to the production of relaxin and other hormones by the ovaries and placenta, which stretches and relaxes the pelvic floor muscles and results in the movement of coccyx bone.
Coccydynia is a pain that ranges from mild to severe discomfort. It usually goes away on its own, or it may take a few weeks to months to recover from pain. Behavior changes and home remedies are helpful to recover from coccydynia.
Tailbone is a small triangular bony structure that is present at the bottom of the spine. The pain which is present in and around the tailbone is called tailbone pain or coccydynia. In this region, sudden pain can be caused due to trauma caused by falls, sitting for a prolonged period on a hard or narrow surface, vaginal childbirth, or degenerative joint changes.
Coccydynia will usually resolve within a few weeks to months with or without any conservative treatment. Some people may present for a prolonged period, and the pain can become debilitating and chronic if not controlled.
Last reviewed at:
19 Jan 2021 - 1 min read
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