Tailbone Pain
Symptoms, Causes, Related Conditions, Questions & Related Topics

Tailbone Pain May Also Be Known as:

  • Coccydynia
  • Coccyx pain



Top 5 Causes of Tailbone Pain

1. Discomfort

Sitting for a long period of time could cause your tailbone to hurt, especially if you sit on a hard surface, such as the ground, a plastic or wooden chair, or a bench. If this happens once, it usually isn’t a problem, and your tailbone pain will likely go away after a few hours. However, if you notice this happens often, such as when you sit at a desk, you might want to think about replacing your chair.

2. Injury

You can, in fact, injure your tailbone if you fall and land on your bottom or even if you sit down too hard. You can hurt your tailbone in a number of ways, the most mild being bruising and the most severe being the dislocation of your tailbone or even breaking your tailbone.[1] Like other bones in your body, your tailbone can break as the result of an injury, and you will need treatment from a doctor for it to heal properly. Broken tailbones are not common, however; although painful, most tailbone injuries are bruises that simply heal with time.

3. Pregnancy

Pregnancy is another common cause of tailbone pain. The last trimester of pregnancy sees a change in the ligaments around this area as the body prepares for the baby to enter the birth canal.[1] This can cause pain and discomfort in the tailbone because these ligaments are often near or even attached to the bone. However, it is common and not usually a concern, especially if it occurs just before a birth.

4. Weight Gain or Loss

Sometimes, people who are overweight experience pain in their tailbones. People who are overweight put more weight on their tailbones when they sit for long periods of time, and this can cause pain and discomfort in the area.[2] Losing weight can help with the problem; however, those who lose weight very quickly might not have time to get used to their changing body and are more likely to hurt their tailbone through an injury because of the decreased protection from the weight they used to carry.[1]

5. Age

Sometimes, tailbone pain occurs simply because of age. Over time, repetitive motion can cause the tailbone to become worn out. This can be natural, but it doesn’t mean you have to live with serious discomfort, as you can always talk to your doctor about possible options for treating tailbone pain.

Possible Health Conditions Related to Tailbone Pain

Infection

Sometimes, a skin infection can cause tailbone pain. A cyst can also form near the tailbone, causing it to hurt.[3] A pilonidal cyst is a type of cyst that commonly occurs near the tailbone when a loose hair causes friction on the skin. Usually, red skin, drainage and pus, and a bad smell are signs of a pilonidal cyst. Treatment can require drainage or surgical cyst removal.

Tumor

Tumors associated with tailbone pain are rare, but they do occur.[4] In some cases, the tumor can actually develop on the bone, causing pain. A strong sign of a tumor is a growth or mass under the skin that you can feel and see with no outer issues. Although the situation is rare, a pilonidal cyst can lead to cancer.

Bone Infection

In rare cases, an infection can occur in the bones themselves. This infection is called osteomyelitis, and it is usually caused when bacteria spread from a skin infection to the bones.[5] Symptoms include bone pain, fever, chills, sweating, an open wound, warmth and swelling around the infection site or wound, and a general feeling of illness. Usually, a host of tests determine whether an individual truly suffers from osteomyelitis; if they are, antibiotics can treat the issue. Severe infections might require surgery.

Arthritis

Just as age can cause the wear and tear of bones and joints, arthritis can also occur, causing pain and stiffness in bones and joints. Arthritis sometimes occurs in the sacrococcygeal joint, causing pain in the tailbone.[2] Arthritis develops in older individuals; in some cases, bone spurs can result, causing little projections to form along the bone.[6] Usually, this happens in the knees, spine, and hips, but it can also occur near the tailbone and cause pain.

Giving Birth

Experiencing pain in the tailbone after birth can be a sign that an injury occurred during vaginal childbirth.[7] It is possible to bruise your tailbone while giving birth. Although it is not common, some women experience a fracture. When this occurs, it is important for the individual to rest and try to reduce any pain. After giving birth, resting is always essential, but it is still important to talk to your doctor if you experience tailbone pain so they can find out if you did in fact injure the area while giving birth.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Your Tailbone Pain

  • How long have you dealt with tailbone pain?
  • Do you have any other symptoms besides the pain itself?
  • Have you noticed any wounds, drainage, masses, or other visual cues for your pain?
  • Did you recently injure your tailbone in any way or do you think you might have done something to injure it?
  • Have you recently lost or gained weight?
  • Do you sit often for work or another reason?

Sources

  1. Healthline. Tailbone Pain. https://www.healthline.com/health/back-pain/tailbone-pain
  2. Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine. Coccydynia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2682410/
  3. National Library of Medicine. Tailbone Disorders. https://medlineplus.gov/tailbonedisorders.html
  4. Mayo Clinic. Pilonidal cyst. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pilonidal-cyst/symptoms-causes/syc-20376329?p=1
  5. National Library of Medicine. Osteomyelitis. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000437.htm
  6. Mayo Clinic. Bone Spurs. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bone-spurs/symptoms-causes/syc-20370212
  7. Mayo Clinic. Tailbone Pain: How Can I Relieve It? https://www.mayoclinic.org/tailbone-pain/expert-answers/faq-20058211

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