What does the coccyx do?
The coccyx is sometimes referred to as the ‘tail bone’ because it is the last remaining part of the full tail that belonged to our ape-like ancestors. The coccyx is located just above the cleft in the buttocks, and it curves forwards so that it points towards the front of the body.
What is coccydynia?
Pain in the area of the coccyx is called coccydynia. Coccydynia can be anything from discomfort to acute pain, varying between people and varying with time in any individual.
What are the symptoms of coccydynia?
The classic symptom is pain when pressure is applied to the tailbone, such as when sitting on a hard chair. Symptoms usually improve with relief of pressure when standing or walking. Some patient may experience pain during bowel movements, or pain during sex.
What cause coccydynia?
Coccydynia can follow after falls, childbirth, repetitive strain or surgery. In some cases the cause is unknown. It is five times more common in women than men, probably because the female pelvis leaves the coccyx more exposed.
How we diagnose coccydynia?
One of the first aims of investigation is to rule out any diseases such as cancer or fracture as the cause of the pain. This is very unlikely, but it needs to be checked. X-rays, CAT scans, and MRI scans may be used for this purpose.
What treatment options for coccydynia?
- Pain-relieving medications including anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed.
- A stool softener may help prevent constipation and reduce painful bowel movements.
- Symptoms may be relieved by sitting on one buttock or sitting on a donut-shaped foam or inflated pillow.
- A physical therapist may be able to help with coccygeal massage, positional release, and stretching of the levator ani muscle.
- The therapist can teach you how to relax the pelvic floor muscles.
- In chronic cases, local nerve blocks may be beneficial. Injection of a local anesthetic and corticosteroid is given directly into the painful segment.
- Removing the coccyx called a may be considered only when conservative care fails to relieve painful symptoms or if symptoms recur.
What can I do to help relieving the pain?
- If you have coccydynia, it may not be possible to reduce the pain of sitting down altogether. However, it may help to lean forward in your seat and rest your arms in front of you on a flat surface, such as a table.
- Wear loose fitting clothes that will not squeeze the tissues around your coccyx.
- Wear flat, comfortable shoes.
- Try sleeping with a pillow or cushion between your knees.
- Applying either a warm or cold pack to the base of your spine may help to ease your pain.
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