Tailbone (Coccyx) Pain Nerve Compression

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Is Nerve Compression 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. The coccygeal nerve provides sensation to the skin around the coccyx. Sustained pressure on the nerve may compress it and generate pain. A compressed nerve is also known as a pinched nerve. The earlier a compressed nerve is diagnosed and treated, the sooner the symptoms will subside.

Nerve Compression as a Cause of Coccyx Pain

In order to understand how nerve compression generates 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.

Simply sitting on a hard surface for an extended period of time creates the condition in which the coccygeal nerve can become compressed and generate pain. Repetitive stress activities such as riding a bike or rowing a boat can create the same condition. Applying pressure directly to the tailbone would exacerbate this pain. Rising from a seated position is apt to increase the pain as well. It is believed that the musculature connected to the coccyx may cause dislocation during this change of position. This would further irritate and inflame the compressed nerve and increase the discomfort. While pain is typically focused on the coccyx itself, it may express itself in other ways. The pain may radiate through the hips and legs, as with sciatica. There may be the experience of numbness and tingling. Compressed nerves also may create a burning sensation, as if on pins and needles. Nerve compression may also generate a sense of weakness in the affected area.

Beyond the pain created by a compressed nerve, coccyx pain can be induced by repetitive stress activities that create friction on the tailbone, childbirth, pain from other spinal injuries, infections, and tumors. 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.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/compressed- nerves
  2. http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/spine- anatomy/spinal-cord- and-spinal- nerve-roots
  3. http://spineuniverse.com/conditions/neck-pain/pinched- nerves-can- cause-back- pain
  4. http://spine-health.com/video/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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