What Causes Tailbone Pain?

The most common cause of tailbone (coccyx pain) is a fall that results in landing on the tailbone. This usually occurs when a person falls into a seated position, but it can also happen if the tailbone is directly hit by another force.

Coccyx Pain Causes

Historically, physicians dismissed chronic tailbone pain as the result of mental problems in their patients. No longer believed to be “all in the patient’s head”, we’ve come a long way in determining the potential causes of coccyx pain. Expert medical opinion today recognizes coccyx pain as a viable medical condition likely caused by trauma to or pressure on the tailbone or its surrounding muscles, nerves or ligaments.

The most common cause of coccyx pain is direct physical trauma, but pregnancy, tumors, and infection are other possibilities. In some cases, no known cause of the tailbone pain can be found.

Tailbone Injury Due to Fall

The most common cause of coccyx pain is landing directly on the tailbone. This is usually accomplished by falling into a seated position, but it can also occur when the tailbone is directly hit by another force.

Tailbone Fracture during Childbirth

Childbirth is the second most common cause of coccyx pain. Although fractures of the coccyx are uncommon from childbirth, the process can cause painful issues with ligaments, joints, and muscles in the area.

Constant Tailbone Friction

Pressure from certain behaviors can also cause coccyx dysfunction. For instance, riding a bicycle or sitting for long periods of time can cause pressure on the bone structure which then results in tailbone pain.

Coccyx Bone Spurs

Sometimes a bone spur is to blame for the tailbone pain a patient experiences. Medically referred to as “coccygeal spicule,” these often painful bony growths may be the cause of tailbone pain in nearly 15% of patients. There are three different types of coccyx bone spurs and are more likely to cause pain in thinner patients with little padding or fat near the spur.

Injuries from other parts of the spine

Like degeneration that can occur at any spinal level, coccyx pain can be caused by the damage or injuries to the vertebrae, discs, nerves or soft tissues in other parts of the spine.

Infection or Tumor in the Tailbone

In rare circumstances, a spinal tumor can cause pain in the tailbone and sometimes infection of the spinal membranes can cause the issue as well. However, these causes are rarely seen, and the pain is much more likely to be caused by trauma or pressure.

No matter the cause of the coccyx pain, no one should feel they have to just “live with it.” If you or someone you know needs help in figuring out the cause of their tailbone pain, the expert team at BASIC has the vast experience, advanced-training and specialty qualifications to help.

Health Tips For Tailbone

  • Avoid sitting for long periods of time. Take frequent walks or standing breaks if necessary
  • Use a “doughnut pillow” to sit on during particularly problematic coccyx pain episodes
  • Be Weight Wise – higher than normal body weight can put undue strain 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

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