About Tailbone Pain, Tailbone Treatment, Coccydynia Pain
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Tailbone pain or Coccydynia is a medical term meaning pain in the coccyx or tailbone area, usually brought on by sitting too abruptly. Direct trauma to the coccyx can result in coccyx fractures, dislocations, alignment abnormalities, etc.. Examples of trauma to the coccyx could include a fall onto the tailbone, pregnancy (and especially childbirth, which can put substantial pressure onto the coccyx as the baby moves down within the pelvis), prolonged sitting (especially sitting on a hard surface, or sitting on a narrow surface such as a bicycle seat, or increased sitting due to immobility because of an injury at a totally unrelated body region).
Definition of Tailbone Pain (Coccydynia)
The coccyx, or tailbone, is the triangular bony structure located at the bottom of the vertebral column. It is composed of three to five bony segments held in place by joints and ligaments.
A coccyx or tailbone injury results in pain and discomfort in the tailbone area (the condition is called coccydynia). These injuries may result in a bruise, dislocation, or break (fracture) of the coccyx. Although they may be slow to heal, the majority of coccyx injuries can be managed with conservative treatment.
The majority of coccyx injuries occur in women because the female pelvis is broader, and the coccyx is more exposed.
Coccydynia is the inflammation of the tip of the tailbone and the pain is often worse on sitting.
How is Coccydynia diagnosed?
The cause of a coccyx injury is largely determined based on a medical history and a physical examination. Occasionally, x-rays or other imaging studies may be performed.
- The entire vertebral column (spine) may be examined. A neurologic examination may be performed. A rectal examination may also be performed. For this exam, the physician inserts a finger into your rectum to feel the area of the coccyx and determines if there is a dislocation or a fracture that can be felt and if direct pressure against the coccyx reproduces your pain.
- X-rays may be taken to determine whether there is a fracture or dislocation. However, x-rays occasionally may not reveal these injuries. Some physicians recommend x-rays in both the standing and seated positions to better determine the presence of a fracture or dislocation. Rarely, at the discretion of your physician, a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may be ordered at a later time if x-rays do not reveal the cause of continuing coccyx discomfort.
What are the causes of Coccydynia?
Most coccyx injuries are caused by direct trauma to the tailbone area.
- A fall onto the tailbone in the seated position, usually against a hard surface, is the most common cause of coccyx injuries.
- A direct blow to the tailbone, such as those that occur during contact sports, can injure the coccyx.
- The coccyx can be injured or fractured during childbirth.
- Repetitive straining or friction against the coccyx (as happens in bicycling or rowing) can injure the coccyx.
- Sometimes, the cause of coccyx injuries is unknown.
- Less common causes of coccyx discomfort include bone spurs, compression of nerve roots or injuries to other parts of the spine, local infections, and tumors.
What are the symptoms of Tailbone pain?
- Severe localized pain and tenderness may be felt in the tailbone area.
- If the injury is traumatic, a bruise may be visible in this area.
- The pain is generally worse when sitting for prolonged periods of time, or with direct pressure to the tailbone area.
- Bowel movementsand straining are often painful.