Coccyx Pain

Everything you need to know about Coccyx Pain

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Back pain is such a ubiquitous thing that many of us toss out terms to describe our current back pain without really having a clue what those terms mean. Coccyx for example is a term commonly bandied about simply to describe lower back pain when the truth is that the coccyx is technically in the lower back it is much more than regular 'lower back pain'.

In order to understand pain in this region you must have a better understanding of what the coccyx is and where it is located. Colloquially we refer to the coccyx as the tailbone, which is made up of several small bones at the lower most portion of the spine. Usually consisting of three to five fused vertebrae, the coccyx is located just above where the buttocks begins. Because of the nerve supply and the attachment of pelvic muscles, the pain in this region can become quite overwhelming.

If you suffer pain only in this region you have what is known as coccyx pain, instead of merely lower back or lumbar pain.

Coccyx Pain Causes

The most common cause of coccyx pain is injury or trauma to the tailbone. This can occur due to a fall where the main point of contact is the coccyx. Often the coccyx is injured by a direct blow to the coccyx during sporting events or other physical activities such as bicycling. Activities such as bicycling and rowing can injure this area due to the friction and repetitive motion the activity requires. These are the most common causes for coccyx pain and they also provide the best indicator of what caused your tailbone pain.

Some women can fracture or injure the coccyx while giving birth, although this does not occur frequently.

While the cause of coccyx pain may be unknown there are many other injuries and medical issues that cause this pain, including nerve compressions (sciatica), tumors, bone spurs and even infections. Sometimes the pain may simply be due to spending far too much time sitting incorrectly, directly on the coccyx.

Symptoms

Obviously pain is the most common symptom of coccyx pain, but if the pain is not localized it may be a symptom of an underlying problem. Coccyx pain will present as localized pain and tenderness that worsens during prolonged periods of sitting. In fact any activity that places direct contact on the coccyx will be incredibly painful.

Traumatic injuries to the coccyx may present with a bruise. Some coccyx pain sufferers may experience pain during bowel movements or sexual intercourse.

The pain itself however, can vary from radiating pain (up or down) to tingling to numbness. Back muscle weakness may also occur. Lower back pain is perhaps the most common symptom of coccyx pain whether due to a herniated disc, trauma or illness.

Coccyx Pain Diagnosis

Even if your coccyx pain is due to injury or trauma , your physician will want to conduct a series of diagnostic tests to determine the source of the pain. A diagnosis usually starts with a physical exam as well as the patient's medical history. If you suspect your pain is due to injury or trauma an x-ray will likely be taken to examine the spine.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be used to diagnose coccyx pain to determine the severity of the injury. In some instances a rectal exam may be necessary to allow the physician to feel for a fracture or dislocation to the tailbone, while often a basic spinal exam will be conducted manually to feel for changes to this area.

Your physician or back pain specialist may perform a variety of tests in order to properly diagnose the source of your pain.

Treating Coccyx Pain

Tailbone injuries are incredibly painful which is why fast and effective treatment is so important. Since most of us spend a great deal of time sitting it is important to utilize both natural and medical treatments for pain.

Some natural treatments for coccyx pain include:

  • High fiber foods to soften stool and prevent constipation.
  • Ice tailbone for 15 minutes at time, four times per day. This is most effective during the early days of injury to minimize pain.
  • Use a coccyx pillow or cushion when sitting and avoid sitting on hard surfaces for long periods of time.

Of course there are also many medical remedies available for tailbone pain, such as;

  • Pain relieving pills and creams may be prescribed or recommended.
  • An injection of the sacrococcygeal joint is commonly used to treat tailbone pain.
  • Stool softeners to relieve pain during bowel movements
  • Coccyx removal

The best course of action is a treatment plan that includes both natural and medical solutions to tailbone pain. Surgery to remove the coccyx should be your very last option after a variety of other treatments have proven unsuccessful. You may have to try a combination of different treatments before you find relief.

Healing is up to the patient, which means you need to take note of symptoms and pay attention when they worsen or new symptoms occur. The more aware you are of your pain and when it gets worse will help and your pain specialist find the best course of treatment.

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