A Coccydynia is a type of tailbone pain, it is also known as coccygodynia is pain in the area of the coccyx or tail bone as it is sometimes called. It is five times more common in women than men.
Symptoms of coccyx pain
Symptoms of coccygodynia include pain in the tailbone or coccyx right at the very base of the spine. Pain may be worse during or after sitting and stay uncomfortable for days. Pain in the tailbone can be worse when sitting on a soft surface as less of the pressure is taken by the ischial tuberosities (bones you sit on in the bottom) and more pressure placed on the coccyx. A sharp pain may also be felt when moving from sitting to standing.
Causes of coccyx pain
Coccyx pain can be caused by an unstable coccyx which over time causes chronic inflammation. A fall or direct trauma to the base of the spine is also a very common cause. Repetitive strain or overuse, particularly from cycling or rowing can increase the likelyhood of pain from the coccyx bone.
Muscle spasm or tightness in the pelvic floor muscles, gluteus maximus, prirformis or adductor magnus muscles can cause coccyx pain and this is distinguished because it eases when sitting rather than getting worse. Other causes include complications following surgery and childbirth.
Treatment of coccyx pain
What can the athlete do?
Avoid sitting down if possible. Sitting is likely to aggravate the injury and inhibit healing. If you have to sit, use a cushion with a whole or slit cut out to accommodate the coccyx and take the pressure off it. Apply hot or cold therapy to the area. Some therapists advise hot, some cold. Different approaches may be more successful for some than others. For an unstable coccyx the injury will usually heal by itself over a period of weeks or months. Visit a doctor or other medical professional who can make an accurate diagnosis and advise on treatment.
What can the doctor or therapist do?
Physiotherapy can involve stretching and massage to the muscles around the coccyx including piriformis. Strengthening and relaxation exercises for the pelvic floor are often given. For pain related to muscle spasm deep tissue massage to release the tension and ease trigger points (localized knots in the muscle) and stretching can help.
A steroid injection is sometimes given. This may provide permenant relief or temporary relief for a period of months. A chiropractor or osteopath may perform and 'internal manipulation' by inserting a gloved finger into the anus and manipulating the coccyx! A last resort is surgery to remove the coccyx which is successful in most cases.