Tailbone pain

14 Aug

Tailbone pain is something that we often see at our Chiropractic office in Mississauga. Fortunately, the patient is often able to walk around as the tailbone is not weight bearing. Unfortunately, the tailbone is connected to many things, can impact your daily life, and can be painful!

What is the tailbone?

The tailbone is a small bone at the bottom of the sacrum called the coccyx. Medically, tailbone pain can be referred to as coccygodynia, coccydynia, coccalgia, coccygalgia, or coccygeal pain .

lateral view of the pelvis showing the tailbone / coccyx

How can you hurt a tailbone?

Often it is a fall to the butt that injures a tailbone. Slipping on ice or falling down stairs on your behind are common stories. You can break these bones and X-Rays are taken in many cases. Often times the area is bruised or misplaced from the injury. In Chiropractic, we refer to these shifted or misplaced bones as subluxated.

People can hurt a tailbone more boring ways, which is also common. This involves simply sitting too long or improperly. Ideally we should be sitting on the ischium or sit bones. Unfortunately, humans seem to be slouching more and more, leading to direct pressure being placed on the tailbone for extended periods of time. This type of injury slowly builds up until the body can’t handle it anymore. Fortunately, it is a changeable bad habit. Unfortunately, it is difficult to change a bad habit, but worth it.

spinal model showing the tailbone or coccyx misaligned
exaggeration of a misaligned tailbone or coccyx to the right

Pregnant patients often have difficulty with tailbone pain due to the pressure of the baby as well as the changing body mechanics. The birth process will also directly impact the tailbone and sacrum.

Certain sports have postures that can create pressure on the tailbone leading to injury, including cycling. The seat can be adjusted to minimize the pressure on your tailbone but the injury may have slowly creeped up on you that you didn’t realize it was a problem. Adjusting the seat will help, but the injury still needs to heal and recover, which takes time. Athletically, these injuries happen and are necessary to perform at a higher level. By having strategies to minimize the injury and to encourage quick recovery are necessary.

Chiropractic is a great way to address tailbone pain.

How does Chiropractic help tailbone pain?

Chiropractic can help tailbone pain by adjusting the tailbone into the proper position. A Chiropractic exam is necessary to properly assess the injury and to determine if the tailbone is subluxated and safe to adjust.

Here is a study highlighting the improvement of a patient who was experiencing tailbone pain who was helped with the use of the Activator Methods Chiropractic Technique:

Chiropractic Treatment of Coccygodynia via External Instrumental Adjusting Procedures utilizing Activator Methods Chiropractic Technique.

How do Chiropractors adjust a tailbone?

There are many ways Chiropractors can adjust a tailbone. I am advanced trained at the Activator Methods Technique and so will describe this approach.

Interestingly, to adjust a tailbone, Chiropractors don’t always have to touch the tailbone. There are many ligaments attaching to the tailbone that can be used as adjusting contact points. They are off to the side of tailbone and can move the tailbone similarly to a rope moving a sail on a sailboat.

tailbone or coccyx image showing ligaments attaching

Because the tailbone is not weight bearing and it is a tiny bone it does not require much force or strength to adjust. Infact, the lighter the adjustment is often more effective. This is because the body relaxes the surrounding structures which helps the body find the proper position for the tailbone as opposed to tightening up and fighting against the adjustment.

The Activator Chiropractic technique is ideal for adjusting a tailbone. This is because the adjustment is light but very quick. The testing method of analyzing leg lengths also allows for analysis through movements as opposed to too much touching directly in the region of the painful tailbone.

The basic isolation test for a coccyx that has subluxated to the side involves the patient squeezing the buttocks together. The resulting movement of improper movement helps the Chiropractor determine the subluxated pattern. There are more advanced testing isolation tests as well to modify the adjustment depending on the patient’s injury or subluxation pattern.

Contact us in Mississauga to see if your tailbone pain is a Chiropractic case.

How is the spinal cord is impacted by tailbone pain?

The spinal cord connects to the tailbone area and the top of the spine. Think of how the strings of a guitar are connected. This can cause odd symptoms to occur throughout the body due to the impact the injury can have on the nervous system.

spinal model showing the tailbone or coccyx
spinal model showing the tailbone or coccyx aligned

How is the spine is impacted by tailbone pain?

The tailbone is also physically part of or connects to the sacrum, a central part of the pelvis. This is a weight bearing structure and when injured can lead to difficult movements and limping. The compensation that occurs to reduce pain will inevitably lead to twisting of the rest of the spine. If addressed early, this can be momentarily irritating. If not addressed, the other structures begin to have injuries as well.

What are common complaints when someone has tailbone pain?

Often times people with tailbone pain complain of sitting. Sitting hurts when there is direct pressure put on the tailbone. The patient quickly finds softer surfaces to sit on or donut shaped rings to reduce the pressure. Interestingly, if you sit further forward onto your “sit bones”, or ischium, there should be less pressure directly on the tailbone as well.

Going to the bathroom is often uncomfortable or painful as well because of the pressure created internally.

Going from sitting to standing often requires the effort of muscles and ligaments that are connected to the tailbone. Because of this, the pain often occurs.

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