What is Coccydynia?



The tailbone, also referred to as the “coccyx,” is made up of three or more tiny vertebral bones. These vertebrae are closely connected at the bottom of the spine, though there is some restrained movement between these bones facilitated by joints and ligaments. The coccyx is also connected to the sacrum (lower spine) by a joint known as the “amphiarthrodial joint”, which allows very limited movement. As an individual ages, the coccyx may actually become fused with the sacrum. This, however, occurs more commonly in women than in men.

Contrary to popular belief, the coccyx does serve some function for today’s human beings. Many tendons, ligaments and muscles attach to the coccyx. In addition, some of the muscles of the pelvic floor use the coccyx as an insertion point. Additionally, when a person is in a sitting position, the coccyx provides much-needed support and stability.

Like any region of the body, the coccyx can be damaged or impaired and result in discomfort and other symptoms. The term “coccydynia” refers to inflammation and pain that is localized to the tailbone area. Most coccydynia cases resolves on their own in a few weeks. For some patients, however, coccydynia becomes a chronic and debilitating medical concern.

There are many conditions that can mirror coccydynia in symptoms and region, including sciatica, bone fractures and infections such as shingles, so it is important to obtain an accurate diagnosis. While coccydynia occurs much more frequently in women than in men, it is a common condition that can usually be efficiently treated with a professional diagnosis and plan for care.

Coccydynia

Coccydynia Causes

By far, the most common cause of coccydynia is injury. Sudden accidents and traumatic events can negatively affect the coccyx and the pelvic bones. Motor vehicle accidents, contact sports, unexpected falls and other high-impact traumas may cause or encourage coccydynia. In addition to sudden injuries, some other common causes include:

  • Sitting down too quickly, especially on a hard surface
  • Childbirth, due to the extra pressure placed upon the coccyx
  • Cancer
  • Benign tumors
  • Infection

Being overweight or obese may also exacerbate coccydynia. Tailbone fractures and breaks, while causing similar symptoms, are not classified as coccydynia. To alleviate or eliminate associated pain and discomfort, it is necessary to obtain a comprehensive and clear diagnosis from a spinal professional.

Coccydynia Symptoms

Because coccydynia strictly refers to inflammation in or near the tailbone, symptoms are highly localized. An individual experiencing coccydynia may encounter:

  • Pain in the tailbone area that worsens when sitting or leaning against something
  • Tenderness and redness in the affected area
  • Discomfort during bowel movements
  • Difficulty standing up from a resting position and performing other everyday activities, such as driving or bending down
  • Bruising near the coccyx
  • Some low back pain
  • Deep, intense aches in the tailbone region
  • Sharp pangs in the coccyx area

Someone suffering from coccydynia may begin to notice the symptoms gradually or suddenly. If you experience bleeding, fever or pain in areas that are not near the coccyx, call 911 immediately as you may be encountering a medical emergency.

Our Minimally Invasive Treatment Approach

If you may be combatting coccydynia, you do not have to resign yourself to these symptoms being part of your daily life. At Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, our team of innovative spine surgeons regularly helps patients identify and treat tailbone-related conditions. Through patient-centric care, we strive to provide safe and compassionate long-term solutions for coccydynia and any related concerns.

During your initial consultation, one of our experienced physicians will carefully and compassionately evaluate your physical state and medical history. A physical exam and imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans or MRIs may be necessary to rule out other conditions, such as bone fractures and cancer. Once we have pinpointed coccydynia as the root cause of your symptoms, Minimally Invasive SpineCARE® will develop a treatment plan designed around your unique needs and situation.

Before recommending surgical intervention, we generally encourage implementing conservative methods to treat coccydynia. These options may include one or a combination of the below:

  • Acute pain management through hot and cold therapies, rest and lifestyle modifications
  • Pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Physical or chiropractic therapy
  • Professional massage
  • Cortisone injections
  • Postural adjustments
  • Specialty seating
  • Nerve stimulation

Some research shows that patients may experience temporary relief from their symptoms if they avoid prolonged sitting while leaning forward while resting, wearing loose-fitting clothes and/or using laxatives if coccydynia seems to cause more pain during bowel movements.

As a member of the vertically-integrated Lumin Health family, Minimally Invasive SpineCARE® is able to offer timely referrals to a number of pain management specialists in the Dallas–Fort Worth area. Through advanced pain mapping techniques, Lumin Health’s PainCARE Institute division is able to pinpoint and alleviate the coccydynia of many men and women.

While the vast majority of coccydynia cases can be fully addressed through conservative treatments, minimally invasive surgery may become an option in severe cases. If we recommend undergoing a minimally invasive procedure, patients can rest easy knowing that they being cared for by one of North Texas’s premier spinal clinics. Our state-of-the-art minimally invasive techniques offer a multitude of benefits, including:

  • Tiny incisions
  • A reduced risk of blood loss and scarring
  • Minimal trauma to surrounding muscles and tissue
  • Quicker recovery times that allow patients to return to work, school and other daily activities faster
  • Speedier pain relief

Because our surgeons are extensively experienced in both minimally invasive procedures and traditional open surgeries, we are able to offer whichever surgical approach best meets your individual needs as a patient. Sometimes, patients who are overweight or who have scar tissue (adhesions) from a previous surgery may need to undergo a traditional procedure. Recovery times vary based on the type of surgery used and your own medical history.

If a patient chooses to undergo surgery to correct coccydynia, the procedure most often involves removing the affected part of the tailbone or the entire coccyx. A “coccygectomy” is the surgical extraction of the tailbone. After a coccygectomy, most patients find drastic improvement in their quality of life.

To learn more about coccydynia or Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, please do not hesitate to get in touch by calling us directly at 972-255-5588 or by filling out the form on this page. We look forward to speaking with you!

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