Tailbone (Coccyx) Pain Tumors in the Tailbone

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Is a Tumor 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 impact trauma, it can also result from a tumor. Spinal tumors can be either malignant or benign. One tumor that is associated with the coccyx is called a chordoma. It is a rare primary malignant bone cancer. Chordomas account for about 20% of primary tumors of the spine.

Tumor as a Cause of Coccyx Pain

In order to understand how a tumor can contribute to 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.

Chordomas can occur anywhere along the spine, but they typically appear at the base of the skull or in the sacrum or coccyx. Up to half of chordomas appear in the sacrococcyx region. The occurrence of chordomas is rare. About 300 people in the United States are diagnosed each year. As the tumor grows, it can exert pressure and irritation on the nerves in the area. This can generate not only pain but also numbness, tingling, and weakness in the arms and legs. The tumor can also exert pressure on the bladder and rectum, creating incontinence, constipation, and pain while having a bowel movement. Chordomas have a higher incidence among older men. The median age for diagnosis of sacral chordomas is 69.

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


  1. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00034
  2. http://www.chordomafoundation.org/understanding-chordoma/
  3. http://www.livestrong.com/article/184374-diseases- of-the- tailbone/

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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