Considered rare and not fully understood by medical experts, tailbone pain (coccydynia) is nonetheless distracting for those who experience the condition either occasionally or on a regular basis. Located at bottom of the spine, the tailbone (coccyx) is considered a fairly sturdy and durable structure, although it’s still susceptible to injury or strain either directly to the bone itself or to adjacent ligaments and muscles. Dr. Hyun Bae and his team of expert surgeons at The Spine Institute Center discuss a few possible causes of coccydynia.
1. Injury or Trauma
The most common cause of injury to the tailbone is a sudden fall or a hard hit to the lower back area. Such trauma usually causes inflammation of the tissues next to the tailbone.
2. Prolonged Pressure
Sitting in an uncomfortable position for a long period or participating in activities like horseback riding may cause sustained pressure on the tailbone. When coccyx pain is pressure-related, discomfort is usually short-term. Sitting on hard surfaces can also cause this type of tailbone pain.
3. Tumor or Infection
In rare instances, a tumor may cause pressure on the tailbone and its supporting tissues. Infection can have a similar effect. If a tumor is present, a biopsy is often necessary to determine if it’s cancerous or not
Due to the proximity of the tailbone to the birth canal, the baby’s head passes over the top part of the tailbone. Though there is often no related discomfort, injury in the form of a fracture or severe strain to nearby ligaments sometimes occurs as a result of this pressure.
Diagnosed with a physical exam and image testing to rule out other causes, tailbone pain is typically limited to the affected area. Treatment for coccydynia usually involves anti-inflammatory drugs, the application of ice or heat when the pain is first experienced, and avoiding sitting for long periods as the tailbone and supporting tissues heal. However, severe tailbone pain may lead to the development of more serious conditions and the need for minimally invasive spine surgery.
If you’re experiencing chronic pain in your lower back, make sure to have it looked at earlier rather than later. At The Spine Institute in Santa Monica, we can diagnose the source of your pain and determine if surgery is necessary or if there is an alternative treatment solution. Call 310-828-7757 today to request an in-person evaluation.