Tailbone or coccyx bone (named after the Greek word 'cuckoo' because of its resemblance with the beak of a bird), is never noticed by most individuals until, of course, it becomes achy or painful. Despite the small size, this small bone serves multiple functions in your body, such as maintenance of optimal posture, stabilization of the back bone and associated structures, strengthening of tendons and ligaments, distribution of pressure among buttocks etc. All these functions are attributed to the anatomical location of coccyx, which is just above the buttocks at the terminal end of vertebral column.
Due to its multiple functions, if tailbone becomes painful, then you will suffer so much. Now let's take a look at "why does my tailbone hurt" and how to deal with it.
Why Does My Tailbone Hurt?
Direct or indirect injury to spine or tailbone can result in painful tailbone. This injury can be a result of:
Accidental kick on lower base of back bone in a sports-related activity;
A sudden fall during contact sports like ice-skating;
Falling from horse during riding (especially on the coccyx or back);
Partial dislocation of coccyx or other lower back strictures, in case of accidents.
Actions producing repetitive strains over the spinal region include rigorous recreational and sports-related activities (such as cycling). Persistent or repetitive motion across the tailbone region can lead to the application of repetitive pressure over the back musculature that may lead to the stretching of tailbone. If not noticed on time, these repetitive strains can significantly damage the coccyx bone, leading to chronic pain in the tailbone area.
Too Much Pressure
Improper or abnormal posture that are maintained over a long period of time (such as driving for extended periods of time without taking any breaks) or sitting in an awkward position greatly increases the pressure on the tailbone, leading to chronic pain near tailbone area.
One of the other factors which also put a lot of pressure on coccyx or tailbone includes morbid obese. Being obese depresses the tailbone under the extra mass of back bone culminating in pain in the tailbone or coccydynia.
In rare cases, pain near the tailbone area can be a result of severe constipation, long-standing pelvic infection or growing tumor mass.
Other Causes of Tailbone Pain
With advancement in age, the wear and tear changes within the muscles and skeletal tissue component also increases significantly. This makes the cartilage and bone more prone to damage and destruction. Painful tailbone can be caused by progressive aging.
Another important cause is primary bone cancer that originates from bone or secondary bone cancer (which first initiates at another tissue before becoming metastatic and spreading to the bone).
Bone spur is characterized by an out-growth in the bone. If bone spur appears in the spinal region, then painful tailbone is almost always reported. Inflammation of the ligaments that supports the tailbone is most frequently reported cause of spine bone spur.
Compression of spinal nerves can also irritate the tailbone and cause permanent pain in the lower back region, including buttocks, tailbone and legs.
Why Does My Tailbone Hurt? What to do?
Maintain Good Posture
If tailbone pain is caused by inappropriate posture or abnormal gait, then it can be managed by maintaining the optimal posture such as sitting comfortably, with the head and neck straight and body in an upright position (with slight arch at the back for flexibility).
If experiencing pain while trying to stand from a sitting position, instead of abruptly standing up, you should first lean forward then stand up. This will help in significant pain reduction.
Relieve with a Cushion
Special cushions are designed for patients who are suffering from tailbone pain. These cushions should be placed beneath the back bone.
Consult with the physician before choosing the appropriate type of cushion as doughnut shaped cushions are not recommended in case of coccydynia.
Apply Hot Compress
Application of heat using a heat pad is essential in eliminating the pain of tailbone area. Apply warmth to the affected area with a heating pad at least 4 times a day for 10-15 minutes each time. If a sharp pain is felt, first lie down and then apply the heating pad so as to relieve the direct pressure on tailbone.
Massage to Relax
Taking massage from an expert also help in reducing the pain to a great extent. Make sure to guide the therapist to the location of pain in order to get a relaxing massage for soothing painful tailbone area.
Use of over the counter (OTC) painkillers such as naproxen, ibuprofen etc. also significantly reduces the pain.
A physical therapist helps in relieving the pain by guiding the patient toward customized and goal-directed exercises and techniques to reduce the pelvic pressure (that is believed to result in the tailbone destabilization and pain). Physical therapy further helps in maintaining the flexibility of pelvic floor muscles.
"Why does my tailbone hurt so much?" "How to get rid of this killing pain" If this is your feeling, then you may have to turn to surgery. Surgery to remove the coccyx bone is the last option in case of severe and disabling coccydynia. Generally surgery is recommended for extremely refractory varieties of pain in the tailbone area. The process of removing coccyx is termed as coccygectomy.