Tailbone (Coccyx) Pain Injuries From Other Parts of the Spine

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Are Injuries From Other Parts of the Spine to Blame for Your Coccyx Pain?

Coccydynia is the formal term used to describe pain that emanates from the coccyx or tailbone of the spine. While the most frequent cause of coccyx pain is trauma to the tailbone itself, it may also be the result of an injury suffered to another part of the spine that expresses itself in the coccyx. This is also known as referred pain.

Injuries From Other Parts of the Spine as a Cause of Coccyx Pain

In order to understand how an injury from another part of the spine can express itself as 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 3 to 10 centimeters.

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.

The primary focal point of coccyx pain is the tailbone itself. Compression of the coccyx while sitting for extended periods of time irritates the surrounding tissue and generates pain. Putting pressure on the tailbone exacerbates the pain. Rising from a seated position increases the pain. It is believed that the musculature connected to the coccyx causes dislocation during this change of position. It may also generate pain across the hips, pelvis floor, and down the legs. These varied symptoms may mask the actual point of injury. Sciatica is an example of nerve irritation that is often experienced as pain down the legs. Joint degeneration from arthritis in the lumbar or sacrum spines can generate similar pain. A herniated disc can cause inflammation and pain in the buttocks and lower back. A thorough physical exam, along with appropriate diagnostic imaging, is necessary to pinpoint the location of the injury.

Beyond injuries to other parts of the spine, coccyx pain can be induced by physical trauma, repetitive stress activities that create friction on the tailbone, childbirth, infections, and tumors. Whatever behavior moves the bones in the coccyx beyond their limited range of motion can cause dislocation and the ligaments, muscles, and nerves 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:

  • http://spine-health.com/video/coccydynia- tail-bone- pain-video
  • http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=2027&pf=2/coccydynia/article.htm
  • http://tailbonedoctor.com/about-tailbone- pain/

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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