Common Causes of Tailbone Pain

woman sitting at her desk with tailbone painYou probably don’t give your tailbone any thought when it’s pain-free, but it’s an important bone that helps provide support and stabilization when you sit. But if it’s injured, your tailbone can hurt, particularly when you’re sitting.

In this blog, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steven Schiebert of New Jersey Spine Surgeons explains some of the common causes of tailbone pain.

What is the tailbone?

The tailbone, which is also called the coccyx, is a small, multi-segmented bone that’s situated at the bottom of your spine, just above your buttocks. It helps support and stabilizes you when you sit, and many tendons, muscles, and ligaments are also attached to your tailbone.

What are the symptoms of tailbone pain?

You may experience one or more of the following:

  • Severe pain and tenderness in the area
  • Bruising
  • Pain that becomes worse when you’ve been sitting for prolonged periods of time
  • Bowel movements and straining may cause more pain
  • Women can experience more pain during sexual intercourse

What are some of its common causes?

The following can cause tailbone pain:

  • Falls and other trauma
  • Joint damage related to repetitive motions
  • Aging-related wear and tear
  • Pregnancy – the ligaments around the tailbone loosen to accommodate the baby
  • Infection – rarely
  • Tumor - rarely

In addition, you’re more likely to experience tailbone pain if you’re overweight. However, you shouldn’t lose weight too quickly, because your tailbone could lose its protective padding.

What are the treatment options?

Tailbone pain can be treated with one or more of the following options:

  • Medication - Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help relieve pain until your tailbone heals. Your doctor may also be able to give you an injection to help with more severe pain. Oral medications may also be used.
  • Ice or heat - Sitting on a heating pad or ice pack may provide some relief.
  • Sitting position - Make sure you have good posture when you’re sitting so you’re not putting too much pressure on your tailbone. Lean forward as you're starting to sit down, and if you’re sitting in a chair, sit with your feet on the floor and your back against the chair. A donut-shaped pillow can also help take pressure off your tailbone.
  • Physical therapy - Exercises that strengthen your stomach muscles and pelvic floor can help support your tailbone. A physical therapist can also massage the ligaments that attach to the tailbone.
  • Surgery - Surgery may be recommended when other treatments aren’t effective. A surgeon can remove all or part of your tailbone to provide relief in a procedure called a coccygectomy. Even if the surgery is successful, it may take some time before the pain goes away, and you need to make sure you understand the surgery’s potential risks as well as its benefits.

Where can I find treatment for tailbone pain?

Dr. Schiebert is an experienced fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon who specializes in spine surgery and combines extensive knowledge with compassionate care. He recommends the most conservative treatments possible to help you get relief from your tailbone pain, and when surgery is recommended, Dr. Schiebert uses minimally invasive procedures whenever possible.

If you’re experiencing tailbone pain, take the first step toward relief by making an appointment today for an evaluation with New Jersey Spine Surgeons at our Staten Island, New York or Princeton, New Jersey location.

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