The coccyx are the small bones of between three and five tiny vertebrae which can be fused together right at the end of the spine, they are located between the buttocks above the anus. The medical terminology for this kind of pain relating to the coccyx is Coccydynia and it refers to coccygeal pain. It is also referred to as tailbone pain; the condition can be due to an impact injury resulting in dislocation, sports injury, childbirth, disease, or a referred pain.
The coccyx bone is usually referred to as the tail bone and anyone who has ever fallen down steps or missed sitting down on a chair and landed on their tail bone will tell you that it is an excruciating pain.
Women have a higher tendency to suffer from Coccydynia which might be as a result of child birth. The resulting pressure that has been placed on the coccyx as the baby descends the birth canal can inadvertently cause damage.
Damage to the coccyx can cause reduced mobility and discomfort when sitting, lying down or during sexual intercourse. This condition can also affect driving, cycling and horse riding and which can affect your quality of life to a large extent.
Treatment for Coccydynia
Due to the whereabouts of the pain often people do not seek out treatment immediately sometimes due to embarrassment .Or, once medical help has been sought out find that it is difficult to find a doctor who has extensive knowledge of treating the condition, the response is often pain relief and to wait and see.
Whilst this type of injury does take a considerable time to heal it ought to be followed up by your GP after a period of four months to assess your progress. Initial diagnosis will include a physical examination as well as a history of the injury or when the pain first began or what makes it worse and brings on the pain.
The condition can be a referred pain which may be due to a gynaecological condition or a bowel problem; therefore it is important that it is investigated if it is not the result of a direct injury/accident. Conservative treatment of physiotherapy, pain relief, steroidal/ local anaesthetic injections and possibly manual manipulation of the coccyx will all be exhausted prior to surgery. Surgery to remove the coccyx will be a last resort after all other avenues have been explored.
This will include a physical examination and history
possibly MRI or CT
Referral to other specialist consultants
Self Help for Coccydynia
If your work involves being seated for long periods at a time it can have severe limitations unless you have the right form of seating. Sitting on a donut or wedge type of cushion can drastically reduce the amount of pressure exerted on the bones thus reducing the pain. It can seem irritating to have to carry around a cushion but the results are often well worth the effort. By reducing the continuous pressure on the coccyx it has a greater chance of healing. There are specific types of chairs available which can be purchased which will greatly reduce the stresses placed on the base of the spine, if you have a continuous problem which is affecting your ability to attend work it may be appropriate to ask your employer to purchase you a specific chair.