Pain is the hallmark of Coccydynia (Tailbone Pain). The word can be divided into two parts; the first, coccy, refers to the triangular structure itself, which sits at the bottom of the vertebral column, and comes from the Greek word for ”cuckoo”. I previously thought it translated as “tail”. The second part of the word, -“dynia” translates as “pain”, which is much more appropriate.

The coccyx, or tailbone, is one of those useless vestiges of evolution, joining ranks with the appendix and paranasal sinuses. It sits just above the gluteal cleft on your backside, and  is the conjunction of four or five boney segments which are either fused, or joined by a variety of bony, cartilaginous or fibrous unions.

If these unions are damaged, irritated, or fractured, PAIN can result.
The attached muscles, the anus in front, and the buttocks(gluteus maximus) in back, account for some of the activities that can cause pain when the coccyx is disordered.

The main causes of coccydynia are falling on your backside, sports has bicycling, especially on irregular surfaces, or childbirth, which requires mobilization of the coccyx in order for the baby to exit.

One of my friends recently developed coccydynia from riding for several hours on a very bumpy dirt pathway. She has had the pain for two or three weeks now, has pain while sitting & upon getting up, but can walk without pain. Sleeping, especially on her side, causes no problems.

Ibuprofen affords temporary relief, but she likes to avoid taking it regularly because of side effects. Most people with coccydynia will recover after a few weeks, or occasionally a few months, and will be sufficiently impressed to avoid the causative activities.

If the pain persists for a long time or prevents normal activities, you should visit the doctor for diagnostic tests.

Please refer to the article by the Cleveland clinic for more information.

—Dr. C.

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