Your tailbone (coccyx) consists of the lowest three to five vertebrae in your spine – the variation is because often some of them are fused. The individual vertebrae vary from person to person in both shape and size, though what they have in common in that they are solid, because the spinal cord does not run through them. The structure is particularly exposed in women, whose wider hips offer less protection than in men – indeed, the tailbone can occasionally sustain damage during childbirth. Otherwise, most tailbone injuries are the result of a fall onto it, a blow, as in contact sports, friction, as in bicycling, or, less commonly, the growth of bony spurs called osteophytes, injuries to other parts of the spine, and infections.
The good news is that because the spinal cord does not pass through the tailbone, there is no risk of damage to the spinal cord as a result of a tailbone injury.
Symptoms of Tailbone Injury
The symptoms vary, but are likely to include pain, tenderness, and bruising, discomfort when sitting, pain when moving your bowels.
Figuring out What’s Wrong With the Tailbone
Diagnosis of tailbone injuries is initially by means of a rectal examination, to discover any damage to the coccygeal bones; an X-ray may be taken for confirmation.
Fixing Tailbone Pain
Treatment is by means of anti-inflammatories orally or injection.
If you have to sit for long periods, use a cushion with a hole in its center may help to relieve pressure.
In some cases, tailbone pain can persist for a long time (coccydynia), and an MRI scan may be needed to get to the root of the problem.
Surgery rarely needed for persistent coccydynia.