Understanding Tailbone Pain

Coccyx pain, often referred to as tailbone pain is discomfort that occurs at the base of the spine where it intersects with the bones of the pelvis. Having coccyx pain can sometimes be embarrassing, and it can make the simplest behaviors, such as sitting, a painful exercise.

Coccyx Pain Symptoms

The symptoms associated with coccyx pain are usually severe and impede proper sitting. The local area can be tender and may even ache from the pressure of improper body posture. In cases of trauma, a bruise may be present, and on x-ray, it may show a fracture of the bone of the coccyx. However, a direct injury isn’t always necessary to cause pain. A bad bruise can be severely painful without a fracture of the bone.

To understand the symptoms of coccyx pain, it is important to know what this part of the spinal anatomy is and how it functions. The coccyx is actually comprised of 3 to 5 fused vertebrae, which together form a triangle that makes up the back of the pelvis and is supported by joints and ligaments.

Interestingly, most coccyx injuries occur in women. This is because the female pelvis is broader, thus exposing more of the coccyx to potential risk of damage and injury.

When a problem arises with the coccyx, pain symptoms can begin to appear that can also mimic many other common low-back conditions – sometimes making the pain difficult for doctors to diagnose. However, especially to a spine specialist trained in recognizing coccyx pain symptoms some specific signs can indicate a problem involving the coccyx. These include tenderness in the tailbone and pain when sitting, especially for extended periods of time. Painful bowel movements are also a characteristic of a problem with the coccyx because the muscles surrounding it are activated during straining, even when the straining is mild. The pain usually feels worse with constipation, but it may lessen after a bowel movement is complete. Women may also experience pain during intercourse because of the pressures that focus on the coccyx area during sex.

People suffering from coccyx pain should seek immediate medical attention if the pain is also accompanied by an unexplained fever, significant weakness in one or both legs, sudden bladder or bowel incontinence or loss of control, severe and ongoing abdominal pain or otherwise unexplained weight loss. These can be signs of more serious conditions that require urgent evaluation and treatment.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these coccyx pain symptoms, it is important to determine what is causing them. Even if there seem to be no other symptoms associated with the tailbone pain, people who are suffering should seek a proper diagnosis by a spine health expert.  This step is critical to ensuring that the condition causing the coccyx pain doesn’t worsen or place unnecessary stress or damage on other parts of the spine.

No matter how mild or severe, constant or intermittent, coccyx pain symptoms are not a normal part of life or healthy aging. If you or someone you know needs help in achieving long-term resolution of tailbone pain symptoms, 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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