What is Tailbone Pain or Coccydynia?
We have all experienced that excruciating back pain that had made our everyday simple task of even sitting unbearable. Have you thought why? Tailbone or coccyx is an important part of the spine, which is the bottom most triangular small bone centered above your buttocks. Though it might seem like a tiny bone, it has its own significance. Coccyx’s main purpose is to stabilize the body by providing support with weight bearing while seated.
Coccyx is made up of three to five bony vertebrae fused together surrounded by nerves, ligaments and muscles. Coccydynia refers to the pain of the coccyx or tailbone which is characterised by tenderness, inflammation at the bottom of the spine between the buttocks. Coccydynia can be caused due to an acute or chronic injury to the coccyx as a result of a trauma (eg. fall or accident), childbirth, poor ergonomics, prolonged sitting and wrong posture.
Tailbone pain can range from mild to severe depending on the extent of injury and inflammation. It can be classified into Acute Coccydynia, where a patient experiences pain on the lowest point of the back which lasts from weeks to months and Chronic Coccydynia where a patient experiences constant pain in the lower back for many months to years. This ongoing pain can be both traumatic and a debilitating experience requiring both conservational and psychological support for healing.The intensity of pain can be aggravated while sitting, leaning backwards or when standing up from a neutral seated position.
What are the causes of Coccydynia?
Coccydynia is due to various reason those are:
- Trauma – due fall on buttocks from steps, bathroom and accidentally pressure on coccyx.
- Direct hit to tailbone during different sports activities like skateboarding and cycling.
- Coccyx fracture during childbirth.
- Postural Dysfunction due to prolong sitting.
- Also sometimes it is idiopathic.
What are the signs and symptoms of coccydynia?
- Severe or deep ache in and around the tailbone.
- Pain intensifies while sitting or after sitting.
- Sharp pain felt while transition from sitting to standing.
- Pain and tenderness at the coccyx area.
- Acute pain and discomfort during sitting and leaning backward.
- Tenderness felt on pressure over tailbone.
- Pain during and after bowel movement.
- Pain is not limited to tailbone it can radiate or spread to legs and low back.
- Pain during prolonged sitting on hard or soft surfaces.
- Women experience pain flaring up during the menstrual cycle.
- Sometimes burning sensation is felt at the coccyx/tailbone area.
- Pain felt during sleeping on the back and climbing steps.
- Pain flaring up during and after sexual intercourse.
In most of the cases due to constant pain and less awareness about the coccydynia, ladies and even men loses the hope in life which effects there life professionally and personally.
What is the anatomy and function of a Coccyx or Tailbone?
Coccyx /Tailbone is a small triangular bone located at the lowest part of spine. It is formed by 3-5 rudimentary coccygeal vertebra which progressively diminish in size from above downwards. Coccyx is directed downwards and forwards making a continuous curve with the sacrum. Coccyx articulate superiorly with sacrum to form sacrococcygeal joint which allows limited movement of coccyx over sacrum.
Functionally, coccyx serves as an attachments site for tendons, ligaments and muscles. It also acts as an insertion point for pelvic floor muscles. Coccygeal muscles pulls the coccyx backward during defecation and parturition(child birth). Coccyx also provides support and stabilise person while sitting and from sitting to standing.
How to diagnose Coccydynia and Who is at risk?
The diagnosis of Coccydynia is difficult as multiple disorders can be sharing the same symptoms of back pain. This projects the importance of meeting your doctor or a specialist to identify Coccydynia and getting early prompt treatment. Research studies have identified that females have five times greater risk of developing tailbone pain than males. Increased Body mass index (BMI) or obesity has three times risk for tailbone pain.
Tailbone pain can be treated
- Physical therapy where the physical therapist assists you in developing a holistic exercise and stretching regimen focussing on the etiology of your pain.
- Use of supportive ring shape or doughnut cushions to relieve pressure from coccyx.
- Pelvic rehabilitation and postural corrections.
- Remedial massages and ergonomical corrections.
- Yoga and stretching exercises.
- Psychological support