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The medical term used to describe pain experienced in the region of the coccyx is Coccydinia. The coccyx is the tailbone which is positioned at the bottom of the spine below the sacrum. It is quite a common complaint which occurs most frequently in women than men.

What Causes Coccydinia?

Most cases of coccydinia happen as a result of childbirth. The labour and delivery can cause force to build up at the bottom of the spine and can cause the immediate tissues to become painful and somewhat bruised. Trauma can also cause this, for example a person falling roughly on the area because of a fracture or displacement or even because of referred pain from a lower back disorder. There have been reports of coccydinia in people who on a regular basis undertake sports such as cycling where repetitive strain may be to blame.

Signs and Symptoms

Coccydinia may at first be felt as a dull ache derived from lower back pain. It may come about during or most probably after delivery of a baby, it can also be sudden if a fall or fracture is to blame. The pain may be constant and feel as though it is not being relieved as sitting can make it worse.

Treatments for Coccydinia

There are a range of treatments that may be successful in reducing the pain caused by this condition and how successful these treatments are may differ depending on the source and the intensity of the pain experienced. For some people simple pain relief may be all they need if pain is short lived, due for example after a little fall or knock.

Others may need an local anaesthetic and steroid injections to the area if pain is longer term. These injections may be given in hospital as a day patient under X-ray guidance or may even be obtainable by your GP depending on their speciality. Physiotherapy or osteopathy could help if the coccyx has become displaced, while surgery may be necessary for those who have suffered a fracture of the coccyx.

Before treatment is started it is advised that an accurate diagnosis of coccydinia is made as it can imitate symptoms of other disorders such as shingles. If you suspect its shingles or have a rash, please get medical advice for a confirmed diagnosis.

For people who suffer from severe pain, investing in a well padded cushion for use during sitting activities may be worth it, or by simply using a pillow. Your sitting position may also need correcting to increase your comfort so selecting the right chair is also very important. Try and keep away from surfaces which are hard or deep seated sofas as these will raise the pressure on the area. For those who suffered this complaint as a result of childbirth, discuss this with your midwife in the result of any further pregnancies. Alternative birthing positions may be able to be practiced.

Coccydinia, although it is somewhat common it is still not talked about very much. It is often long term and related to lower back pain; that may be because of a displacement or fracture of the coccyx, which is why a proper diagnosis and treatment plan will be needed.


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