Tailbone (Coccyx) Pain Painful straining or bowl movements

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The Relationship Between Coccyx Damage and Painful Straining of Bowel Movements

In people who have suffered a particularly painful traumatic accident or who have fallen hard on their tailbone, coccyx damage can occur and may be quite painful. In addition to the pain in this lowest part of the spine, other events can worsen the pain, including painful straining of bowel movements.

Painful Straining of Bowel Movements as a Symptom of Coccyx Damage

When the coccyx is damaged, everyday, otherwise normal activities can become problematic. Defecation can be painful due to the pressure placed on the coccyx, especially if straining is required to produce a bowel movement. Constipation may become an issue as the result of avoiding the bathroom for fear of impending pain. This can create an even more vicious pain cycle for the person who is suffering.

Is Painful Straining of Bowel Movements a Symptom of Coccyx Damage?

To patients experiencing coccyx pain, simple everyday tasks can become incredibly painful. The coccyx, referred to as the tailbone, is made up of three to five bones fused together and to the sacrum and a vestigial disc and ligaments. Since this triangular shaped bone has limited movement, damage is rare. However, the coccyx can be damaged in an accident or a sudden fall in which the patient lands on the tailbone. Women tend to suffer more from coccyx pain than men, due to having a wider pelvis. In women, the coccyx rotates slightly and can be susceptible to damage during childbirth.

From an anatomical perspective when men sit, the hipbone is vertical and the sacrum rotates inward. The body weight is placed onto the lower parts of the hips called the ischial tuberosities. In comparison, when women sit, the sacrum rotates outward and more pressure is placed on the coccyx.

When a patient is in the process of defecation, the pressure on the coccyx can build and be unbearable. The pain may be felt across the lower back, buttocks, and legs. Understandably, the pain may lead to a secondary psychological issue in which the patient avoids having bowel movements for as long as possible. This behavior will cause constipation and can actually make the condition worse.

For people suffering from damage to the coccyx, taking a stool softener daily or as recommended by your physician can make bowel movements easier. Drinking plenty of water will also add moisture to the bowel in the colon. It is important to avoid constipation so as not to strain during the bowel movements. Eating a high fiber diet will help to keep the bowels on a “regular” schedule.

Pain medication is typically prescribed for coccyx pain that is moderate to severe. But one side effects for many of these pain medications includes constipation, which does not help in painful straining of bowel movements as a symptom of coccyx pain. The patient should discuss side effects of all medication with both their physician and the pharmacist to come up with a treatment plan that will relieve the coccyx pain while preventing further injury from occurring.

At-a-Glance: Painful Straining of Bowel Movements as a Symptom of Coccyx Damage

  • Stool softeners and pain medication may help avoid constipation during coccyx pain episodes
  • Daily activities may aggravate the coccyx area
  • The lumbosacral joint may be a contributing factor in coccyx pain
  • Women are more at risk of coccyx injury than men

Health Tips For Bowel Movements

  • Talk to your doctor about taking a stool softener on a regular basis to avoid painful straining of bowel movements during episodes of coccyx pain
  • Drink plenty of water to increase smooth movement of the bowels
  • Take an over-the-counter medication to relieve coccyx pain
  • Use heat or ice packs as instructed by your physician

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