Why does my Tailbone Hurt?Jun 17, 2021
Tailbone pain (coccyx) can be very frustrating to experience. This dull and achy pain happens around the bony area at the bottom of the spine. If you have been sitting for long periods of time or possibly had a traumatic fall it can cause tension in the pelvic floor muscles. In some cases, you may feel tailbone pain if you suffer from degenerative joints or have had a vaginal birth.
The pain can become stronger if you are sitting on hard surfaces or getting up and down from sitting. You may also feel this when having a bowel movement and some women may experience this pain during menstruation or having sex.
Tailbone pain, also referred to as coccydynia, is inflammation localized to the tailbone (coccyx or bony area located deep between the buttocks above the anus)
Ways that you can reduce tailbone pain are:
- When in a sitting position, try to lean forward a bit
- Wedge (V-shaped) cushions are designed to relieve pressure when you are sitting
- Ice packs or applying heat
- If your work has you sitting long periods of time, get up and move around every hour if possible
- Learn to release the tight muscles with exercises like Kegels (done with an emphasis on the release) and stretches such as hamstring stretches, wide-leg child’s pose and posterior pelvic floor releases.
I share some exercises to release the muscles in this article Help for Tailbone Pain
Pain during Pregnancy
While approximately 70% of women experience low-back pain at some point in their lives, 50-80% report back pain in pregnancy. For nearly 10% of them, the pain can be debilitating.
Tailbone pain is often caused by the pelvic ligaments loosening and shifting. During pregnancy, your body releases a hormone called Relaxin. The hormone makes your pelvic ligaments looser and more flexible to make room for the baby to grow and enable you to give birth.
This can cause tighter contraction of the pelvic floor muscles, which help stabilize the body. The pelvic floor muscles are connected to the tailbone, leading to pain.
As your abdomen expands in pregnancy, your center of balance is altered and your posture shifts, adding pressure in the low-back and tailbone, which typically aren't weight-bearing. Your growing baby may also begin to put pressure on the tailbone, making sitting and standing painful.
The coccyx becomes more flexible towards the end of pregnancy. This allows your coccyx, and the part of your spine above it, to move as needed when you give birth.
Sometimes childbirth can cause the muscles and ligaments (connective tissue that connects bones) around your coccyx to overstretch. This can result in coccydynia.
You want to be prepared and not in pain during pregnancy and childbirth. Pre and post natal fitness are imperative.
If your pain is severe or other interventions are not quite doing the trick, a physical therapist may be able to help to reduce muscle tension while preserving muscle strength and correcting the instability that causes the pain.
Other reasons your tailbone hurts
Injury - You can injure your coccyx if you suffer a hard impact such as a fall on a hard surface. An example is an accidental kick during contact sports or falling backwards on your buttocks. In most cases where the coccyx is injured, it will only be badly bruised, but in more severe injuries, it may be dislocated (out of place) or fractured (broken).
Repetitive strain injury (RSI) - You may get coccydynia if you regularly take part in sports such as cycling or rowing. This is due to continually leaning forward the pressure placed on the pelvis from the seat. If this motion is repeated many times, the muscles and ligaments around your coccyx can become strained and stretched.
Poor posture - Sitting in an awkward position for a long period of time, such as at work or while driving, can put too much pressure on your coccyx. This causes pain and discomfort that will get worse the longer you stay in this position.
Being overweight or underweight - Being overweight or obese can place excess pressure on your coccyx when you're sitting down. This can cause coccydynia or make existing condition worse. You may also develop coccydynia if you are very slim. If this is the case, you may not have enough buttock fat to prevent your coccyx from rubbing against the tissues surrounding it.
Aging - As we grow older the small discs of cartilage (a tough, flexible tissue) that help hold the coccyx in place can wear down. The bones that make up the coccyx can also become more tightly fused together. This can place more stress on the coccyx, leading to pain.
Here is more information on Tailbone Pain and ways to release it.