Coccydynia (Tailbone Pain): Causes and Treatments

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CoccydyniaYou have fallen on your butt at least once. And you’ve probably fallen on it hard—hard enough that you were sure that you broke something. Coccydynia or tailbone pain can be caused by a fall, but there are other reasons why your coccyx may be hurting you. For that reason, we’ve put together this short guide to coccydynia. Here, we’ll cover coccydynia causes, coccydynia symptoms, coccydynia treatment, and even some coccydynia exercises.  If you have reoccurring or sudden tailbone pain, by the end of this article, you should have some idea of what’s going on.

What Causes Coccydynia?

Your tailbone hurts. You’re a pretty active person and you’re not quite sure what you did to hurt it—that’s assuming you did anything in the first place. The following are common reasons why your coccyx may be causing you some pain.

1. Injury

The most common reason for your tailbone pain may be injury. Falling onto a hard surface or taking a direct hit while playing a sport often contributes to a tailbone injury.

2. Childbirth

Connected to injury, childbirth can often cause injury to the coccyx, including fracture during labor or delivery.

3. Hypermobility

Simply put, your coccyx can move around too much. This movement can cause stress on the coccyx, the joint between the sacrum and coccyx, and the pelvic muscles that attach the pelvis and the coccyx.

4. Lower Spine Injuries

Sometimes injuries to the very lowest parts of your spine can cause coccydynia. Things like bone spurs, tumors and compression of the nerve roots can all lead to coccydynia. These cases tend to be rare.

5. Repetitive Strain

You can strain the muscles around the coccyx much like you can strain any muscle, especially through repetitive movement in that area such as with cycling or rowing.

Now that we’ve looked at the causes of coccydynia, you may be wondering what the symptoms of coccydynia are. How can you differentiate between a bruised butt and a hurt coccyx without going to a doctor for a proper diagnosis? Luckily, the symptoms of coccydynia are pretty straightforward.

Coccydynia Symptoms

There are a number of specific symptoms to coccydynia that can point you and your doctor toward a proper diagnosis. These symptoms include:

1. Increased pain when sitting

Coccydynia can better radiate when you are sitting down and placing your weight on that area. This can be exaggerated based on how you sit or whether the seat is a hard surface without cushion.

2. Pain moving from sitting to standing

Maybe the pain isn’t so bad when standing, but if you have a fair amount of pain when you move from standing to seated positions and vice versa, your coccyx may be the cause.

3. Localized pain

This is a pretty obvious one, but the area around your tailbone will hurt. The sharpness of the pain will depend on how bad the injury is, but if you have coccydynia, you should expect pain and discomfort in the tailbone area.

4. Painful bowel movements

Unfortunately, when you have an injured tailbone, it can affect other aspects of your life, even simple things like a bowel movement. Bowel movements can put pressure on the coccyx as can sitting. So, there is a good chance it will hurt to poop.

5. Sex

This applies mainly to women due to the proximity of the vagina to the coccyx. An injured coccyx may result in pain during sexual intercourse.

These are the main symptoms of coccydynia, but how does the doctor actually go about diagnosing coccydynia? What kinds of tests are performed?

Diagnosing Tailbone Pain

In order to diagnose tailbone pain, the first thing the doctor will do is a general assessment. They will ask you where it hurts and what you may have done to cause the injury. After the general information is digested, the doctor will proceed to a couple of other tests. These tests may include:

1. Palpation to check for local pain and tenderness

Essentially, this is the “Does it hurt when I press here?” test. The doctor will lay hands or fingers on an area near or directly on the coccyx and ask you if it hurts. Depending on the amount of pain and discomfort you are in, the physician may be able to guess how bad the damage is.

2. Intrarectal exam and manipulation

For many, this will be very uncomfortable for various reasons. With this test, the doctor may insert his fingers into the anus to see how much mobility the coccyx has as well as the check for any pain from that side of things.

If the doctor thinks the likelihood of coccydynia is great, these tests may be followed up by X-rays to learn the total extent of the damage to the coccyx. In the meantime, there is a tailbone pain treatment home remedy or two that you may want to try to relieve some of the pain.

Tailbone Pain Treatment and Home Remedies

The following treatments are in no way meant to replace an actual doctor’s prescription or advice. However, if it takes you some time to see a doctor, some of these home remedy methods may help alleviate some of the symptoms and issues that you may be facing.

1. Ice Pack

As with any muscle injury on the body, sometimes all you need is to ice the area to shrink the swelling. This will not mend broken or fractured bones, but it can keep some of the pain down.

2. Heating

A heating pad can help soothe the muscles around the coccyx and the lower spine, which can make the pain from the damaged coccyx area feel worse.

3. Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen may also help ease the swelling and pain in the area around the coccyx.

4. Time

Unless the injury is severe, you’re just going to have to be careful and grin and bear it until your coccyx area has healed itself.

As with any injury, make sure that you follow your doctor’s orders and treatments.

Coccydynia: Your Whole Lower Body May Hurt

The problem with an injury to the coccyx is that the tailbone interconnects with the rest of the lower body. It’s kind of the center point where the legs, hips, and spine meet.  When you injure it, the pain can feel like it’s attached to all of those things even when it’s not. Sitting can hurt. Walking can hurt. Moving from sitting to standing positions can hurt. And unfortunately, unless it’s really serious, the best course of action is to let time and rest heal your wound.

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