Tailbone (Coccyx) Pain Bone spurs

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Are Bone Spurs to Blame for Your Coccyx Pain?

A bone spur is a tiny bone growth. When it occurs on the tip of the coccyx (tailbone), it is referred to as a coccygeal spicule. This type of spur may be the cause of coccyx pain (coccydynia) in up to 15% of people who experience it. Such pain may range from mild to severe. The pain is a result of inflammation that the bone spur generates in the tissue surrounding the coccyx.

Understanding Bone Spurs as a Cause of Coccyx Pain

In order to understand how bone spurs can generate coccyx pain, it is useful to take a look at where the coccyx is and how it is designed to perform. The coccyx is the fifth and final region of the spine. While it can consist of three to five vertebrae, 80% of people possess four. Similar to the sacral spine above it, the vertebrae of the coccyx may be fused. They may also remain in two segments. Either way, mobility is limited. The coccyx is often considered a vestigial remnant of a tail, which gives us its common name, the tailbone. The coccyx is a relatively small structure of the spine. It varies in length from 1-inch to 2 1/3-inches.

The coccyx serves several basic functions. It provides a point of attachment for tendons, ligaments, and muscles of the pelvic region. It is the point at which the spinal cord is anchored. The coccyx helps give support to the spine. Along with the ischium bones, the coccyx forms a tripod for stability while seated.

It is in the seated position that a coccyx bone spur would be most noticeable. It is located at the tip of the tailbone and points backwards. It can be felt through the skin. This type of bone spur or spicule is found more often in thin people who would have very little padding or fat to cushion it. The usual treatment to alleviate bone spur symptoms is injection of a painkiller and anti-inflammatory agent around the spicule. This proves helpful in up to 70% of patients.

There is often a pit in the skin over the spur which can be felt during examination. This suggests that the coccygeal spicule was formed during spinal development. If so, it is not a typical cause of coccygeal pain. Most pain to the tailbone is a result of physical trauma, such as a severe fall or sudden impact. It can also be induced by childbirth, or sitting for long periods of time. Whatever behavior moves the bones in the coccyx beyond their limited range of motion can cause the ligaments of the coccyx to become inflamed. If you are experiencing tailbone pain, or any pain in the lower back, buttocks, hips, or legs, get in touch with an expert in spine health. Early diagnosis and treatment can help ameliorate current pain and prevent long term, chronic issues.

Sources:

  1. http://www.coccyx.com/whatisis/spur.htm
  2. http://www.healthline.com/human-body- maps/coccyx
  3. http://www.innerbody.com/image_skelfov/skel38_new.html#full-description
  4. http://tailbonedoctor.com/about-tailbone- pain/
  5. http://www.spine-health.com/coccydynia- tail-bone- pain-video

Health Tips for Tailbone

  • Avoid sitting for long periods of time. Take frequent walks or standing breaks if possible. Lean forward to direct your weight away from the tailbone.
  • Use a doughnut pillow to sit on, particularly during periods of tailbone pain. Use ice or heat to relieve tenderness or pain.
  • Watch your weight. Extra pounds can put extra stress on the tailbone.
  • Eat more fiber. Fiber rich foods can soften stools and help avoid constipation that can further irritate the muscles surrounding the coccyx.
  • Consider over the counter medications to relieve pain and inflammation.

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