The coccyx is the very bottom portion of the spine consisting of 3 to 5 small spinal bones fused together also known as our tailbone.
Common Signs & Symptoms
- Pain in the coccyx (tail bone) area made worse by sitting
- A history of injury or trauma to the coccyx or tailbone area
The coccyx is the very bottom portion of the spine consisting of 3 to 5 small spinal bones fused together also known as our tailbone. Coccydinia is the medical name for pain in and around this area. It usually begins with trauma such as falling onto your backside, or rubbing over time (such as when riding a bicycle or horse). These strains can increase movement of the tail bone and cause partial dislocation or extra bone growths.
More rarely coccydinia can be caused by growth of a tumour or cyst, or damage to the tailbone during childbirth. This pain could also stem from the lower back and, in many people, the cause of the pain can’t be found.
Advice & Treatment
The type of treatment which is most effective for coccydynia depends on the cause of your condition, your response to treatment and your severity of pain.
Anti-inflammatory medication and other painkillers
It’s important that you take medication to lessen your discomfort. The level of pain you feel is an indication of the level of irritation at your tailbone. Treatment with pain killers and anti-inflammatories may be effective especially if you have experienced trauma to your tailbone. Speak to your pharmacist to ensure you take the correct medication, particularly if you have allergies or take other medication but if these are not effective see your Doctor. For more severe cases there are a range of treatments including:
which can be effective temporarily or permanently
Corticosteroid injections with or without anaesthetic
Nerve block – this supresses your nerve signals 'blocking the pain'.
Sacrococcygeal joint injections – this is a joint which is close to the coccyx and may be one of the sources of coccyx pain
Depending on the cause of your coccyx pain, physical therapy may be an effective option. Always ensure you see a therapist who is trained in manual or hands-on treatment of pelvic problems. Deep tissue massage to your buttocks, pelvis muscles and back can also help to settle problems, again depending on where your symptoms stem from. Acupuncture and dry needling techniques can also be effective in relieving pain.
Surgery to remove the coccyx is uncommon and is usually only recommended when pain is severe and all other treatments have failed.
Please be aware that a coccygectomy can have a long recovery time and can take a few months to a year to recover so it’s important to care for your problem at home to reduce the strain on your tailbone.
Self- care at home
Sitting – specially designed coccyx cushions, or even an inflatable swimming ring, can take pressure off your tailbone when you are seated. Leaning forward in your seat and resting your arms on a flat surface in front of you can also help reduce the strain.
Clothing – wear loose clothing and avoid wearing tight trousers.
Sleeping – lie on your side with a pillow between your legs and avoid sleeping on your back.
Settling your pain:
Cold packs (easiest to use a packet of frozen peas) – applying a cold pack for up to 10 minutes hourly can help ease your pain. Warm packs from your pharmacist or a hot water bottle can help to settle discomfort. Try both – one may work better for you.