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What is Coccydynia?

By Nat Robinson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Coccydynia is medically defined as tailbone pain. At times, the condition may alternatively be known as coccygodynia. The pain may be centered directly on the coccyx or tailbone or the area surrounding it. Coccyx pain is commonly associated with an injury. Treatment for this type of pain may depend on the severity of distress experienced by the patient.

Injury is one of the most typical cause of coccydynia. The coccyx may be injured from a hard fall on the backside. Damage may also result from an especially difficult childbirth or surgery. Excessive activity such as bicycling may put a great amount of strain on the area and cause the pain as well. Some of the least common causes include an abnormal growth on the tailbone or an infection.

An individual with coccydynia may experience more immediate pain when sitting. Sometimes, sitting on especially hard surfaces may be most difficult for many with this problem. The longer the individual sits, the more intense the pain may get. In addition, it may be problematic to change from a sitting to a standing position and vice versa. Often, people with this condition experience pain as well as deep aches in the coccyx.

Coccydynia may significantly impact various areas of a person's life. On a more personal level, this condition can make bowels movements painful as well as sexual intercourse. Socially, some recreational activities may need to be put off until the pain subsides. This type of pain may also interfere with an individual's professional life. For example, individuals who earn their living in a job that requires long periods of sitting and repeated bending may greatly be affected by tailbone pain.

If patients develop pain of this nature due to an unknown cause, physicians will generally go to great lengths to determine the underlying problem. Whether due to an injury or not, a diagnosis for coccydynia may be made using a variety of tests. To begin, doctors generally carefully examine the patient. An examination is typically followed up with traditional imaging tests like a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), X-ray and frequently a computerized tomography (CT) scan. Some of these tests may require patients to sit or lie in different positions for an optimal view.

To treat coccydynia doctors may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and different pain relievers. Stool softeners may also be used to make bowel movements more comfortable. Doctors will generally advise patients to avoid long periods of stationary sitting and to stand up and move about periodically. A repositioning may be attempted for a coccyx or tailbone that has been dislocated due to traumatic injury. Although, it is not a particularly common practice, extreme circumstances may require removal of the bone.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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