Also called the coccyx, the tailbone provides added support for weight distribution. Discomfort in this area at the base of the spine may develop because movement of the tailbone is too limited or too excessive. Abnormal mobility sometimes places added stress on supporting joints, which could contribute to muscle tension, pelvic floor spasms, or inflammation. Keep reading to learn how to manage coccydynia, or tailbone pain.
With mild or moderate tailbone pain, you may benefit from lifestyle adjustments. For instance, if coccydynia is aggravated by periods of prolonged sitting, you might experience relief by improving your posture or using a specially designed tailbone cushion. Other lifestyle adjustments that could provide relief include:
• Losing weight
• Exercising to strengthen muscles around your tailbone area
• Walking and doing other aerobic activities to promote the release of your body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals (endorphins)
• Eating more fiber-rich foods—especially if you’re experiencing pain during bowel movements because of coccydynia
If your tailbone pain is largely related to inflammation, applying cold packs to the area could ease your discomfort during flare-ups. Muscle tension within the tailbone area can also be eased with a warm bath or the use of a heating pad. Heat also increases circulation that promotes tissue healing. Do some experimenting with hot and cold applications to find a combination that’s right for you.
Coccydynia is sometimes manageable with medication if lifestyle adjustments and hot/cold applications aren’t effective. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are often recommended for patients with tailbone pain. Fortunately, there are many over-the-counter options that can ease inflammation. You may also benefit from pain meds prescribed by your Los Angeles spine surgeon. However, there are risks associated with their long-term use.
If you’re looking to avoid overreliance on pain meds, you may benefit from steroid medication injected directly into the affected area of the tailbone. Another possibility is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) units. This type of electrical stimulation involves the use of a device that disrupts pain signals from the tailbone area before they can be sent to the brain.
Chiropractic care is another approach to tailbone pain management. This method for managing coccydynia may involve manual manipulation of the sacrococcygeal joint between the triangular-shaped sacrum bone and the base of the tailbone. A physical therapist can also recommend exercises that gently stretch ligaments that support the coccyx.
It’s rare to need surgery for tailbone pain, but if conservative treatments aren’t providing noticeable relief after 2–3 months or more, it’s worth considering. A common procedure is a coccygectomy, which involves removal of part or all of the coccyx. Minimally invasive techniques are often used to perform this procedure, which could mean fewer surgical risks and a faster recovery period.
Tailbone pain can also be caused by trauma or added stress from childbirth, which may be part of the reason women are more likely to experience coccydynia than men. Prolonged sitting, age-related joint changes, and excess weight are among the other possible contributing factors. Symptoms associated with coccydynia include pain or tightness around the tailbone area, pain associated with sexual activity or bowel movements, and difficulty going from a seated to a standing position or vice versa.
If you’re experiencing coccydynia or severe spinal pain of any kind, make sure to consult a specialist for accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment. The pioneering physicians at The Spine Institute have experience with every aspect of neck and back health, from disc replacement surgery to back fusion alternatives. Los Angeles patients should give us a call today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.