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Tailbone Disorders

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The tailbone or the coccyx is a small bone located at the bottom of the spine. There are different injuries and disorders that can lead to tailbone pain. Some of these tailbone disorders are covered in the following paragraphs.

Disorders of the Tailbone

The tailbone can suffer from many injuries as well as bruises. Sometimes, tailbone pain can occur due to pulled ligaments. Let us have a look at some of the common tailbone disorders that cause discomfort to the affected person.

Coccydynia

Pain in the tailbone is medically known as coccydynia. It usually occurs by sitting abruptly or sitting on a hard surface for a prolonged time. Coccydynia is also known as coccyx pain, coccalgia or coccygodynia. Symptoms include inflammation of the tailbone, pain, tenderness at the tip of the tailbone and the pain worsens on sitting.

Coccydynia is usually caused by an injury. However, in many cases, it can occur spontaneously.

Chordoma

A rare slow-growing tumor at the base of the skull or anywhere along the spine is called as chordoma. It is most commonly found at the clivus or in the sacrum. This rare malignant bone tumor is idiopathic in nature. It is very difficult to treat chordoma due to its location. Only full radiation therapy is found to be effective in its treatment.

Levator Syndrome

Also known as levator spasm or levator ani syndrome is an episodic rectal pain. The pain occurs due to the levator ani muscle spasm. These muscles are responsible for moving the tail around. However, this function is obsolete in humans. Symptoms of levator spam include a dull ache above the anus, feeling of constant pressure in the rectum, burning sensation. The pain may be felt in the lower pelvis region too.

Pilondisal Cyst

Pilondial cyst is an abscess near the natal cleft of the buttocks. It is usually made up of hair and skin debris. These cysts are very painful and may develop pus. In some patients, it may not cause any pain. Cause of pilondial cysts is thought to be due to ingrown hair, prolonged sitting, excessive sweating, congenital pilondial dimple, etc.

Treatment includes antibiotics, hot compress and use of depilatory creams. In some cases, surgical marsupialization may be carried out to remove the pilondeal cysts.

Other tailbone disorders include:

  • Tailbone fracture
  • Pilondeal disease
  • Congenital pilondial dimple
  • Strain on the tailbone due to bicycling or rowing
  • Bone spurs
  • Compression of nerve roots
  • Injury to the spine
  • Direct blow to the tail bone during an accident or contact sports causing pain in the coccyx

Diagnosis is mostly based on X-rays and in some cases a rectal examination. One should avoid sitting for long periods of time. Use a doughnut pillow to sit on. NSAIDs like ibuprofen or aspirin helps with the pain. Make sure  you seek medical help and get the tailbone disorder treated.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: April 07, 2015