The vertebrae(backbone) consists of 33 bones in 5 regions : 7 vertebrae in the neck(cervical) region, 12 in the mid-back(thoracic) region, 5 in the lower back(lumbar) region, 5 in the hip(sacrum) region, and 4 in the tailbone(coccygeal/coccyx) region.
The “sacral curve” of the sacrum and coccyx regions is concaved towards the body. Yet injury from slipping and falling may further push the tailbone into the direction of the body. Any pressure to the affected area, such as from daily activities as sitting on the floor or the chair, causes inflammation and pain. This condition is called coccydynia.
Coccydynia is accompanied by localized pain in the tailbone(not in lower back and/or legs), especially after a big fall on the buttocks.
Some patients report aches and/or burning pain.
- No pain is felt while standing and walking, yet sitting down will inflict soreness and pain in tailbone; in severe cases, the patient would not be able to sit at all.
- In most severe cases, patients report discomfort while walking and during bowel movement, interfering with their daily activities.
- Trauma to the tailbone, such as falling on the buttocks (while inline skating, cycling, hiking, running, skiing, snowboarding, etc.)
- Accumulation of wear and tear on the tailbone, such as spending extended period of time while sitting in front of a computer, may also inflict microtrauma to the region.
- Increased pressure on the tailbone area during childbirth, causing dislocation or fracture of the coccygeal vertebrae. In some cases, the muscles in the region do not recover from the process of childbirth and stay overstretched even after childbirth, causing pain.
- Other cases of coccydynia without an explicit reason may be due to the following conditions:
1) Lumbar Disc Herniation
2) Inflammation in pelvic or anal areas; or rectum, urinary bladder, prostrate, tumors.
3) Levator Ani Syndrome, which is accompanied by muscle knots between anal and pelvis,
or around the pelvic area; symptoms also include dull ache high in the rectum and soreness
in the tailbone.
4) Ischial Bursitis(Ischiogluteal Bursitis), which is accompanied by soreness or pain in the
buttocks while sitting for an extended period, with occasional tingling/numbness in legs
※ Ischial Bursitis is a condition in which the bursa in the buttocks is inflamed from accumulation of pressure
When tailbone is injured, the severe pain inhibits any physical activities, which may alleviate with 3~5 days of rest. However, if the pain does not subside after 7 days, or if the pain still persists when sitting down on a chair, the patient should seek medical treatment.
Acute phases of coccydynia may be treated with 1~2 weeks of sitz bath and cold pack massage, accompanied by anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxant medication.
If the abovementioned treatment fails to work, especially if the 4~5 tailbones are severely bent from the trauma, manual manipulation treatment is recommended.
TIPS! At-home remedies to relieve your pain.
- Reduce pressure on your tailbone when sitting on hard surface with blankets or cushions.
- Use doughnut-shaped cushions that are designed to alleviate pain for hip-related injuries.
- Practice good posture; refrain from crossing your legs or sitting on one side of your buttocks, which may temporarily ease the tailbone, but ultimately lead to lower back pains.
- Refrain from consuming alcohol; alcoholic beverages increase blood circulation, causing blood vessel dilation that increase inflammations in ligaments and muscles around tailbone area, eventually exacerbating the pain.