Tailbone Pain: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
Medically Reviewed By : Dr Sravya, MBBS, MS
The tailbone is present at the bottom of the spine, directly above your buttocks. Despite being tiny, it performs various crucial functions. For example, it helps you to sit more steadily.
In medical terms, the tailbone is called the coccyx. Thus, when you have pain in the tailbone, it is called coccyx pain or coccydynia.
Pain can be mild to severe. It depends on the cause. Additionally, it may occur due to injury, trauma, prolonged sitting, childbirth, infection, tumors, etc. However, you can manage all these cases of pain with conservative treatments.
In this blog, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, and effective tailbone pain treatments, which will help you find relief and get back to living life to the fullest.
Let’s first discuss the factors that cause tailbone pain.
In This Article
What are the Causes of Tailbone Pain?
Pain can be sharp or dull. It depends on the cause. Here are some of the common causes of it,
1. Injury or Trauma
Pain can arise from trauma or injury. For example, bruising, dislocation, or broken bone. Besides, pain can also occur if you fall backward while playing or doing work. Moreover, you may also hurt your tailbone while doing gymnastics or skating.
It can also arise from repetitive pressure on spinew. For example, sports like bowling or cycling. They might cause repetitive strain on the tailbone. And when you do put repetitive pressure on the coccyx then the muscles and ligaments of the spine also get stressed which causes pain.
2. Overweight or Underweight
If you are overweight then it might cause coccydynia. Let’s put it in simple words. When you sit down, your excessive weight puts additional pressure on your coccyx. That might cause discomfort.
On the other hand, if you are underweight then it can also cause coccyx pain. Because if you don’t have enough fat on your buttocks, your tailbone can rub against neighboring tissues, which can cause pain.
In women’s coccyx pain can arise due to childbirth. Because when a woman gives birth, the muscles and ligaments around the coccyx stretch and strain, which can hurt. In rare cases, coccyx bones could also break.
4. Prolonged Sitting
When you sit for long periods in the same position, it might cause pain in your coccyx. It may also happen when you sit on a hard chair or any surface for too long. Moreover, it can also happen to you if you sit in an awkward position or drive on a surface with lots of cushioning.
It is a condition when your rectum veins get swollen, causing bleeding and discomfort. Thus, if you have hemorrhoids, they might cause coccyx pain. Because this condition irritates the muscles and tissue cushions that are covering your anal orifice. And they can put pressure on your coccyx.
It is a rare cancerous tumor that can grow in your coccyx. It can cause discomfort. And as the mass expands, it might cause more pain.
7. Prostate Cancer
Pain in your coccyx can sometimes be due to prostate cancer. It is a common type of cancer in men. As prostate cancer spreads, it can lead to pain.
8. Bone Abnormalities
Some individuals may have congenital abnormalities in the coccyx structure, leading to chronic coccyx pain.
9. Degenerative Conditions
Conditions like arthritis or degenerative disc disease in the lower spine can contribute to pain.
10. Vertebral Tumour
It is a type of tumor that can grow in your spine. It affects your bones or vertebrae. And if it continues to expand, your coccyx may hurt.
11. Colorectal Cancer
Coccyx pain may also result from a tumor or cancer in the colon or rectum (anus). The colon is your large intestine. And the final six inches of your colon make up your rectum. When cancer grows in these regions, it is called colorectal cancer, which may cause pain. These are some of the common factors that can cause coccyx pain. Now let’s discuss certain signs that can confirm this condition.
What are the Symptoms?
Some common symptoms of pain in the tailbone are:
Other relevant signs and symptoms of coccydynia are:
What are the Effective Tailbone Pain Treatments?
The initial step in the treatment is a self-care measure. You can do these steps without a doctor’s help. Such as,
1. Ice Pack
You can ease the pain by applying a cold pack or ice. It will lessen the inflammation. Also, you can apply an ice pack daily for the first few days after the pain starts.
2. Heat Pad
Applying heat to the coccyx may help reduce muscle tension. Although heat can increase coccyx pain, you should not use heat pads without an appropriate prescription. Moreover, you can use heat sources such as hot water bottles, chemical heat packs, adhesive heat strips, or hot baths. Also, you should not put your body’s weight on the coccyx while doing this.
3. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs are also effective tailbone pain treatments. You can use common NSAIDs to treat pain, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and COX-2 inhibitors. These may help reduce the inflammation surrounding the coccyx. Because inflammation is the leading cause of pain. If you take these drugs, your pain will eventually disappear.
4. Dietary Modifications
The pain can get worse due to bowel movements or constipation. In such cases, you should change your diet. You should increase your fiber-rich food and water consumption. Besides this, stool softeners might also be beneficial for easier bowel movements.
5. Altering Activities
Changing routine activities can also relieve coccyx pain. Because it can reduce cumulative pressure on it. Thus, it ultimately lowers the pain. Some common examples of activity modifications are:
6. Supportive Pillows
You may experience severe tailbone pain when sitting, you can use a unique custom pillow to reduce the pressure. For example, you can use U- or V-shaped, wedge-shaped, or cut-out pillows.
In short, it is preferable to use a pillow that relieves strain on the coccyx. Moreover, these supportive pillows are helpful in cars, classrooms, offices, or houses.
If the methods mentioned above do not control or relieve coccyx pain, additional non-surgical treatments administered by a doctor, chiropractor, or other medical specialist may be helpful. Such as,
When you put repetitive pressure on the coccyx, the muscles in this area become tense. They can limit joint movement in the tailbone area. It results in pain. Thus, by massaging these muscles, you can lessen or cure coccydynia.
Injections are one of the effective tailbone pain treatments. They are helpful for pain relief. Commonly, Lidocaine and steroid injections are helpful for tailbone pain.
They reduce inflammation in the area around the coccyx. The duration of pain reduction can last from one week to many years.
The muscle tightness in the coccygeal area can also be eased by gently extending the ligaments that link to the coccyx. A physical therapist or another healthcare professional can advise on the best stretches. That will help relieve coccyx pain.
10. Electrical stimulators
Electrical stimulation can also prevent the brain from receiving pain signals sent from the coccyx. These devices may be suitable options for individuals who want to take fewer medications.
One such device is the Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS). It comes in various designs, some of which use low-frequency stimulation, and one can wear it for extended periods.
11. Manual manipulation
Some people experience pain relief from coccyx manipulation by hand. Manual adjustment of the joint between the sacrum and the coccyx may help to relieve the pain brought on by restricted coccyx movement.
Thus, these non-surgical treatments are possible therapeutic options for pain relief. However, sometimes patients’ pain is unresponsive to non-surgical remedies. In this condition, coccyx surgery may be the only option.
Tailbone pain can significantly impact one’s quality of life, but one can get relief from it with proper treatment and self-care. But first, you must understand the underlying causes. Thus, after knowing the exact cause of the condition, you can begin an appropriate treatment plan. Additionally, adopting a combination of conservative treatments and lifestyle adjustments will be helpful for coccydynia.