You might have fallen down the stairs, slipped and fell on your bum, or you’ve recently given birth, maybe you sit for long periods of time or indulge in horseback riding. Whatever it is that caused it, you’re now experiencing tailbone pain, medically known as coccydynia. Pain from coccydynia does not travel down the legs. It’s a soreness or aching that ranges from a mild distraction to severe and gets worse when you’ve been sitting for awhile. Many people assume that tailbone pain will go away on its own without any treatment but that’s not always the case. That’s why we always suggest you seek medical care at the onset of any new symptoms especially after a fall, but sometimes you just need to know how much to worry. So, today we’ll address coccydynia or pain in the tailbone, possible causes, and treatment options.
Tailbone pain has a lot of possible causes and coccydynia specifically has a lot of mimics (meaning a lot of other conditions have the same symptoms). The tailbone pain we’re addressing today is described as a tenderness around the tailbone, localized soreness, a deep dull ache, and tightness. Symptoms may be more pronounced when you sit down (even on softer surfaces), after sitting for long periods of time, or when you move from sitting to standing. Other symptoms of coccydynia may include:
- Sharp shooting pains when you move
- A deep ache in the tailbone area
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain during bowel movements or just before
So what causes a sore tailbone? There could be any number of causes for tailbone pain, two common causes are trauma to the area and pregnancy/childbirth. In very rare case, coccydynia may also be caused by an infection, a tumour, or a fracture.
If you’re experiencing sudden tailbone pain, tailbone pain without an injury, tailbone pain from sitting or tailbone pain in pregnancy, it’s best to consult with a qualified physiotherapist about possible causes and treatment options.
When seeking care for your tailbone pain your physiotherapist will ask you about any injuries to the area both recent and not so recent. If you have given birth, your physio will ask questions about that as well. Once you’ve had an assessment, depending on the cause of your coccydynia you may be prescribed any number of the following treatments:
- Activity/behaviour modification: to prevent re-injury and reduce pain
- Stretching: Prescribed stretching can reduce muscle tension and decrease pain
Managing Tailbone Pain at Home
Talk to your physiotherapist about the best ways to ease your tailbone pain at home. Common methods include:
- Ice packs: To reduce inflammation caused from an injury or fall
- Heating pads: Help reduce muscle tension and tightness in the area
- Seat cushion: Provides extra padding to take the pressure off your tailbone
- TENS: Reduce pain and discomfort without medication with Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator unit
The good news is that “many studies find that non-surgical treatments are successful in approximately 90% of coccydynia cases.”[i] If caught and treated early and effectively you can see an improvement in symptoms within a relatively short period of time. If you’re experiencing tailbone pain it’s best to book an appointment with a qualified physical therapist to get a full assessment and treatment plan in place– no doctor referral needed!*
*A doctor referral may be required to access your third party insurance