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What is Tailbone Pain or Coccydynia?

We have all experienced that excruciating back pain that had made our everyday simple task of even sitting unbearable. Have you thought why? Tailbone or coccyx is an important part of the spine, which is the bottom most triangular small bone centered above your buttocks. Though it might seem like a tiny bone, it has its own significance. Coccyx’s main purpose is to stabilize the body by providing support with weight bearing while seated.

Coccyx is made up of three to five bony vertebrae fused together surrounded by nerves, ligaments, and muscles. Coccydynia refers to the pain of the coccyx or tailbone which is characterized by tenderness, and inflammation at the bottom of the spine between the buttocks. Coccydynia can be caused due to an acute or chronic injury to the coccyx as a result of a trauma (eg. fall or accident), childbirth, poor ergonomics, prolonged sitting, and wrong posture. Tailbone pain can range from mild to severe depending on the extent of injury and inflammation. It can be classified into Acute Coccydynia, where a patient experiences pain on the lowest point of the back which lasts from weeks to months, and Chronic Coccydynia where a patient experiences constant pain in the lower back for many months to years. This ongoing pain can be both traumatic and a debilitating experience requiring both conservational and psychological support for healing. The intensity of pain can be aggravated while sitting, leaning backwards or when standing up from a neutral seated position.

What are the causes of Coccydynia?

Coccydynia is due to various reason those are:
● Trauma – due fall on buttocks from steps, bathroom and accidentally pressure on coccyx.
● A direct hit to the tailbone during different sports activities like skateboarding and cycling.
● Coccyx fracture during childbirth.
● Postural Dysfunction is due to prolonged sitting.
● Also sometimes it is idiopathic.

What are the signs and symptoms of coccydynia?
● Severe or deep ache in and around the tailbone.
● Pain intensifies while sitting or after sitting.
● The sharp pain was felt while transitioning from sitting to standing.
● Pain and tenderness in the coccyx area.
● Acute pain and discomfort during sitting and leaning backwards.
● Tenderness felt pressure over the tailbone.
● Pain during and after bowel movement.
● Pain is not limited to the tailbone it can radiate or spread to the legs and low back.
● Pain during prolonged sitting on hard or soft surfaces.
● Women experience pain flaring up during the menstrual cycle.
● Sometimes the burning sensation is felt in the coccyx/tailbone area.
● Pain felt during sleeping on the back and climbing steps.
● Pain flaring up during and after sexual intercourse.

In most cases due to constant pain and less awareness about coccydynia, ladies and even men lose hope in life which affects their life professionally and personally.

What is the anatomy and function of a Coccyx or Tailbone?
Coccyx /Tailbone is a small triangular bone located at the lowest part of the spine. It is formed by 3-5 rudimentary coccygeal vertebra which progressively diminishes in size from above downwards. The coccyx is directed downwards and forwards making a continuous curve with the sacrum. The coccyx articulates superiorly with the sacrum to form a sacrococcygeal joint which allows limited movement of the coccyx over the sacrum.
Functionally, the coccyx serves as an attachments site for tendons, ligaments, and muscles. It also acts as an insertion point for pelvic floor muscles. Coccygeal muscles pull the coccyx backward during defecation and parturition(childbirth). Coccyx also provides support and stabilizes a person while sitting and from sitting to standing.

How to diagnose Coccydynia and Who is at risk?
The diagnosis of Coccydynia is difficult as multiple disorders can be sharing the same symptoms of back pain. This projects the importance of meeting your doctor or a specialist to identify Coccydynia and getting early prompt treatment. Research studies have identified that females have a five times greater risk of developing tailbone pain than males. Increased Body mass index (BMI) or obesity has three times the risk for tailbone pain.

Tailbone pain can be treated
Coccydynia is a constant debilitating pain that interrupts your activities of daily living thereby negatively impacting your quality of life. But the good news is that early diagnosis and prompt management can treat Coccydynia. Conservative management tailored to your need is proven to be successful in 90% of tailbone pain patients. We are here to help in the treatment of Coccydynia. The main focus is on understanding the causes of tailbone pain and controlling or eliminating it. Treatment includes: ● Physical therapy where the physical therapist assists you in developing a holistic exercise and stretching regimen focussing on the aetiology of your pain.
● Use of supportive ring shape or doughnut cushions to relieve pressure from the coccyx.
● Pelvic rehabilitation and postural corrections.
● Remedial massages and ergonomic corrections.
● Yoga and stretching exercises.

Psychological support
We provide holistic management services to patients experiencing tailbone pain. Our service focuses on patient-centred care tailored to your individual needs. Remember, tailbone pain can be treated and is not a lifelong ailment. Seek expert advice and treatment at the earliest for a better quality of life.

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