Tailbone (Coccyx) & Tailbone Pain (Coccydynia) –

The tailbone (coccyx) is the bony structure at the bottom or lowermost region of your spine. The coccyx or tailbone is made up of three to five small bones fused together that looks like a tail. Coccyx supports your weight while you are sitting. A variety of things can lead to tailbone pain.

Tailbone pain is medically called as Coccydynia. Tailbone pain can make sitting and leaning back very difficult and uncomfortable. It can go away on its own or might persists for several months.

When your coccyx or tailbone or its surrounding tissue gets damaged, it causes pain and discomfort at the bottom of your spine especially while sitting down. This pain in the coccyx is Coccydynia or tailbone pain. Many times, it becomes difficult to identify or pinpoint the exact cause of our tailbone pain. This is because coccyx can get damaged in various ways.

Causes of Coccydynia / Tailbone Pain –

Coccydynia is the soreness or pain that can range from just a distraction to severe and worsens when you sit. Tenderness around the bone, soreness, deep ache, tightness at the tip of tailbone between the buttocks are the common symptoms of tailbone pain.

Direct injury or trauma to your coccyx is usually the most common cause of coccydynia. Besides this, there could be many causes of tailbone pain. Other main causes of tailbone pain or coccydynia are as follows:

  • Pregnancy / Childbirth– Childbirth accounts for the most common cause of tailbone pain. The ligaments attached to and around the tailbone loosen naturally during the last trimester of pregnancy. This makes women 5 times more likely to suffer from tailbone pain than men.  As the coccyx becomes more flexible towards the end of pregnancy, which allows it to bend and the baby’s head passes above your tailbone during delivery. The pressure against tailbone can result in fracture to injury to the coccyx.

  • Repetitive strain injury – Repetitive motions like sports, extensive bike riding or general wear and tear can damage your joints and contribute to tailbone pain. This happens due to constantly leaning forward and stretching the base of your spine. If this repeated numerous times, then the muscles and ligaments surrounding the tailbone gets stretched and strained, which can cause pain and discomfort. Certain activities such as horse riding, cycling, rowing, sitting for a long time which puts extended pressure on your tailbone can trigger the onset of tailbone pain.

  • Poor posture – When you sit on a hard bench or other uncomfortable surfaces, sitting in an awkward position while working or driving for a prolonged time, it puts too much pressure and hurts your tailbone. Prolonged resting periods or periods of inactivity harms your tailbone. A sedentary lifestyle often results in an unhealthy posture that puts excessive pressure on your tailbone resulting in severe pain and discomfort.

  • Weight factor – Obesity increases the risk for tailbone pain. If you are overweight, then you are more prone to coccydynia as additional weight puts more pressure on the coccyx. On the other hand, if you lose weight quickly, you lose the padding that protects your coccyx and might injure it. Movement of the coccyx is usually less in people who are overweight which leads to continuous stress applied on tailbone and thus, increases your chances of developing tailbone pain.

  • Age – As you age or grow old, the bones that form the coccyx can become more tightly fused together, putting more stress on your coccyx and leading to tailbone pain.

In some rare cases, tailbone pain may be due to infection, osteoarthritis, bone spurs on the coccyx, joint instability or cancer.

Take note of above factors that can obviously trigger tailbone pain, however, you could easily avoid or manage it by adapting dietary changes, posture changes, using coccyx or ergonomic cushions.