Understanding Coccydynia

Understanding Coccydynia

Coccydynia may sound like an exotic disease, but it’s simply the name for common tailbone pain. It’s usually only temporary, but while you have it, it can disrupt your life for weeks or even months.

Fortunately, relief is not only possible, but it’s available and convenient for those who live near one of our nine CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center locations in Maryland. Our pain management specialists treat all types of acute and chronic pain, including musculoskeletal conditions, such as coccydynia.

Here’s what you need to know about this uncomfortable, and sometimes excruciatingly painful, problem.

How coccydynia got its name

At the base of your spine, the bones taper off into a triangular point that angles downward like a bird’s beak. While most people call this area the tailbone, the medical term “coccyx” was given to it because it’s derived from the Greek word for “cuckoo.” And couple coccyx with “dynia,” which means “pain,” and you get coccydynia, or tailbone pain.

Causes of coccydynia

Most cases of coccydynia come from some kind of trauma, whether external from a fall or other injury, or internal from childbirth or long-term sitting. But infections, tumors, and abscesses can also lead to tailbone pain. Here are the most common causes:

Falling on your bottom

Whether you slip on ice, lose your balance on a ladder, or trip while backing up, a fall that lands you on your bottom can bruise, dislocate, or fracture your coccyx.

Being overweight or underweight

Obesity can put extra stress on your coccyx, and being underweight can rob your coccyx of cushioning fat.

Being pregnant and giving birth

Not only does pregnancy — especially in the third trimester — put extra pressure on your coccyx, but pregnancy also causes the production of hormones that soften and relax the tissues around your coccyx. This allows for flexibility during childbirth, but it can also result in tailbone pain when muscles and ligaments get overstretched and bones move out of alignment.

Repetitive movements

Just as repetitive stress can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow, it can also cause coccydynia if you strain the tissues around your coccyx over and over again, as can happen with cycling and rowing.

What coccydynia feels like

In addition to the presence of tailbone pain, coccydynia has a few defining characteristics:

Left untreated, coccydynia, like most types of pain, can lead to depression and interfere with quality sleep. 

Treating coccydynia

In many cases, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, can alleviate the pain of coccydynia long enough for the condition to resolve on its own. Other at-home remedies include:

If these measures don’t alleviate your coccydynia pain, we can help. Physical therapy is an effective way to strengthen your surrounding muscles and improve your posture, thereby relieving coccydynia pain. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may also ease the discomfort. 

However, one of the most successful treatments for coccydynia is a coccygeal nerve block that contains an anesthetic to numb the pain and steroids to decrease inflammation. In some cases, we may pair this with a ganglion impar injection, which interrupts pain messages sent from the bundle of nerves situated in front of your coccyx. 

If it hurts to sit and hurts even more when you get up, you may have coccydynia. To find out for sure and to get relief, book an appointment online or over the phone with CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center today.

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