People often refer to difficult tasks as being a pain in the behind, but a real pain on the backside is no joking matter. Coccydynia is a pain that affects the spine’s tailbone and results from a fall or from regular jarring motions, such as riding a bike.
Coccydynia refers to pain in the area of the coccyx, which is a small, triangular bone at the bottom of the spinal column. The coccyx can get bruised or fractured, causing pain that makes everyday tasks difficult to complete. Prolonged sitting can make the pain worse, while getting up, moving around, and walking can ease the discomfort.
Changing your everyday behaviors along with a little-known, quick and safe remedy can help relieve the pain of coccydynia.
What Is Coccydynia?
Coccydynia literally translates to “tailbone pain.” The word “coccyx” comes from the Greek word “cuckoo,” because it resembles the bird’s beak, while “dynia” means pain. The coccyx is often referred to as the tailbone because it is in the same location as an animal’s tail.
The coccyx is made up of three to five vertebrae that are fused together. The coccyx (along with two bones that are on the bottom of the pelvis) bears the weight of the body when you sit down.
An injured or abnormally curved coccyx can cause pain. Two-thirds of all adults have a coccyx that curves rather than pointing straight down, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
What Are the Symptoms of Coccydynia?
The main symptom is soreness or pain in the general area of the buttocks, especially when you sit down. The pain may be different for different people in a variety of situations, like:
- It may be a dull ache with periods of sharp jabs.
- It may feel worse in situations like while you are sitting, when standing up from a sitting position, long periods of standing, during sex, and when defecating.
- The pain may make it difficult to sleep and interfere with everyday activities like bending over and driving
Along with the coccyx pain, some people experience shooting leg pain or sciatica, back pain, hip pain, and pain in the buttocks.
How Do You Get Coccydynia?
While one-third of all patients with coccydynia have unknown causes, the remainder experience pain because of:
- External trauma, such as a bruised, broken, or dislocated coccyx, usually caused by a fall.
- Internal trauma, such as that caused by childbirth.
- Other causes could be an infection, abscess, or tumor.
Pain can range from minor discomfort to a fierce, sharp pain. It can last for just a few weeks to numerous months or even longer.
Examples of things that might cause tailbone pain include:
Slipping down the stairs and landing on your behind. Sliding on the ice and having your feet slip out from underneath you. Falling off of a ladder onto the ground below. All of these are examples of ways you could fall and land on your backside. A bad fall can bruise, fracture, or dislocate your tailbone.
Pregnancy and Giving Birth
You may not realize the risk of bodily injury during pregnancy and childbirth, but it’s possible to hurt your tailbone just from carrying and birthing your child.
During the third trimester, a pregnant woman’s body releases hormones that soften the area between the sacrum (the bone above the coccyx) and the coccyx. This helps loosen the bones so they can readily move during childbirth, enabling a woman to push the child through the pelvic canal.
While entirely normal, the process can sometimes stretch the muscles and ligaments too far, causing pain even after the birth is over. The soft tissues may then be unable to support your coccyx at the correct angle, making sitting and standing for extending periods painful.
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)
Some activities require repetitive strain on your back and coccyx and may cause injury and pain. In sports like bicycling and rowing, you lean forward and back, stretching your spine. This repeated strain can affect the tissues around the coccyx, resulting in coccydynia.
Sitting on a Hard Seat
Sometimes just the simple act of sitting can cause coccyx pain, particularly if the seat is hard or narrow or your posture isn’t correct. If you must sit on a hard seat, get up often, stretch, and take a short walk. Even better, get a cushion or find a different, more comfortable place to sit.
Being overweight or obese can apply extra pressure on the coccyx, causing it to lean backward. If your tailbone is out of place, it can be painful.
Fat in the buttocks can prevent the coccyx from rubbing against the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. These inflamed tissues can cause coccydynia.
How Do You Fix Coccydynia?
If you are experiencing coccydynia, there are a number of simple treatments that you can try to help reduce inflammation and ease the pain:
- Avoid prolonged sitting
- Use a donut cushion that is specifically designed for coccyx injuries
- Apply hot and cold packs to your lower back and tailbone
- Wear loose clothing
- Get a massage
- See your chiropractor
Visiting your chiropractor may be the best option for finding relief from coccydynia. Chiropractic care begins with a thorough musculoskeletal evaluation to determine the cause of your tailbone pain.
Treatments will vary, but may include a spinal adjustment. If the tailbone has moved out of place, it will irritate the tissues and nerves around it. A spinal adjustment from your chiropractor can correct the misalignment and may help bring relief.
Coccydynia can last weeks or months if left untreated. However, your chiropractor can help bring relief today with the proper treatment.