Tailbone pain, or coccydynia, is no joking matter. Pain and tenderness right around the bony end of your spine (coccyx) can make sitting uncomfortable, especially when traveling long distances. When that dull ache turns into sharp stabs of pain when you stand up, sit down, or are on your feet for long periods of time, you may want to consult your doctor to see if you have damaged your tailbone in any way. You may be surprised what can lead to tailbone damage:
Years of poor posture habits can lead to excess stress on the spine which results in tailbone pain. Sitting for prolonged periods with your back hunched, your shoulders slouching or rounded, and your neck strained forward and tilted down not only strains the muscles in your neck and back but compresses the vertebrae in the spine and puts pressure on the tissues surrounding your coccyx.
Common among young men and those who have professions that involve long hours of sitting (i.e. truck drivers), this condition involves the formation of an abnormal pocket or sac in the skin near the tailbone that can become infected. When hair punctures the skin and becomes embedded instead of growing out of the body, hair, debris, and bacteria can fill the formed cyst and lead to a painful abscess which made need to be surgically drained or removed.
Physical activity which requires the repeated stretching of the base of your spine, like you see with sports that require a leaning-forward motion like cycling or rowing, can strain the ligaments and muscles around your coccyx. Over time, that repeated strain to those connective tissues may affect their ability to hold the tailbone in place.
As a woman’s body expands to make room for a growing baby, the coccyx actually becomes more and more flexible. During childbirth, this then allows for your tailbone and lower spine to bend and allow more room for the baby to come out. Adjacent ligaments and muscles attached to the tailbone may become strained and overstretched resulting in pain and discomfort.
Ever go rollerskating and fall down hard on your bottom? Impact injuries to the coccyx area can lead to severe bruising of the coccyx as well as potential dislocation or fracturing of the bone itself. Typically bruising of surrounding tissues will resolve on its own within a matter of weeks, but more severe injury from a hard blow could require surgical intervention.
Additional tailbone pain factors may involve age-related degeneration of the cartilage cushioning the tailbone, bone cancer, and carrying excess weight (obesity).
The good news is that there are a handful of easy ways you can address injury and posture-related tailbone pain at home and relieve it within weeks:
- Use a donut pillow when sitting to relieve pain in the tailbone, lower back, and hips
- Lean forward when sitting to alleviate stress placed on the tailbone and surrounding tissue
- Apply an ice pack or heat pad to the affected area
- Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers
- Lose weight to remove excess stress on the spine and coccyx
For infections, cancer, dislocation, and fracture, further medical treatment may be necessary including physical therapy, surgery, spinal manipulation, and pain reliever injections. Talk to your doctor if you suffer from chronic tailbone pain.
By Joe Fleming
who is the President at ViveHealth. Passionate about healthy lifestyles and living a full life, he enjoys sharing and expressing these interests through his writing. With a goal to inspire others and fight ageism, Joe writes to help people of all backgrounds and ages overcome life’s challenges. His work ranges from articles on wellness, holistic health and aging to social narratives, motivational pieces and news stories. For Joe, helping others is vital.