Tailbone pain can be relieved in a variety of medical and alternative ways.
Causes of Tailbone Pain
The tailbone, also known as the coccyx, is located at the base of the spine. Trauma to the tailbone can occur during childbirth, from degeneration, from a fall, and even as a result of sitting on a hard surface for a prolonged time. The pain can be sharp or achy and dull. It may worsen while seated, or the pain can increase when rising up from sitting. Sexual relations, defecating, and menstruation can also make the pain more pronounced. Other terms for tailbone pain are coccygodynia and coccydynia. Often the pain can go away after weeks or months, but there are ways to decrease the discomfort in the meantime.1 Coccydynia is found more commonly in women than in men due to the lower location and smaller size coccyx in women.2
Treating Tailbone Pain
Sometimes tailbone pain can be a result of a medical condition. Unrelenting pain for a long period of time may require a doctor visit and rectal exam. For these more serious cases, patients may need to have an MRI or other scan to rule out “fracture, degenerative changes or…a tumor”. As a last resort, surgery may even be necessary, such as a coccygectomy to remove the coccyx. Other patients, with less serious or shorter-term pain, may turn to pain relievers such as NSAIDs (Motrin, Advil), aspirin, or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Some doctors may also prescribe injected anesthetics, anti-epileptic medications, or even antidepressants. Those do not resolve the underlying problem, and there are risks and side-effects to taking medications. Applying ice or heat may also provide relief, as well as leaning forward while sitting, perhaps on a special pillow. Proper posture is also important. Patients should sit upright, keeping their back against the chair, while the feet are flat, the shoulders are relaxed, and the knees are level to the hips. There are non-invasive treatment options for coccyx pain, such as manipulation, massage, and “pelvic floor relaxation techniques”, and other exercises, designed to strengthen the pelvic floor and abdomen.3
Chiropractic and Massage
Chiropractors can help their patients perform exercises and “manipulate the muscles pulling on the coccyx” to alleviate joint tension. One of the techniques that can be used is called “levator ani massage”, and another is “levator ani stretching”. Sacrococcygeal joint mobilization is a third technique that can relieve the coccyx pain. Patients must always practice correct posture at home so that the benefits of massage and manipulation can be sustained. It could also be helpful to invest in special cushions that reduce the pressure on the tailbone. For more pain relief at home, it may feel better to “lie face down or on your side” instead of on the back or sitting upright. Massage therapists can also “relieve pressure in strained muscles and joints”.4
Find out more about treating the coccyx.