What is the Coccyx?
Also known as the tailbone, it is a triangular bony structure that is present at the end of the spine. It has 3 to 5 bony segments held in place by joint and ligaments.
Injury of the Coccyx
Injury usually occurs from trauma, such as a fall or a direct blow to the tailbone. It can also be caused by fracture or injury to the mother during childbirth. Friction against the coccyx can also lead to pain. However, a large percentage of these injuries are of unknown cause.
Due to having a wider pelvis the coccyx is more exposed in women and therefore injury occurs more commonly in women than men.
When there is inflammation of the tailbone due to one of the above causes it can lead to:
- Tenderness on touch
- Pain while sitting for long time
- Pain during bowel movements
- Pain during sexual intercourse
Exams and Testing
A thorough medical history will be taken by the patient either by a doctor or physiotherapist to get an idea of how the pain started. This is followed by a physical examination to confirm the location and source of pain. This will help to rule out pain coming from other surrounding structures. This may include neurological exams, and a rectal exam by a doctor which allows access the the coccyx to feel for any abnormalities. An X-ray may be taken to look for fracture.
The following advice and treatment will be given by your physiotherapist:
- The use of a well padded cushion while sitting or using a ring/donut pillow
- Ice every 2 hours for 20 mins each time during the acute stages
- Avoiding activities such as prolonged sitting
- Soft tissue release maybe helpful
- Manual therapy to help regain movement in the area
- If pain does not go then use of pain killers and cortisone injections by a trained doctor.