In my physical therapy practice, I see many patients with tailbone pain. No matter how many times I meet a new patient with tailbone pain (also referred to as coccydynia), I still find their journey somewhat shocking. When we sit down to discuss their history, I may learn that they’ve been suffering with tailbone pain since falling down a flight of stairs ten years ago, falling off their roller skates as a child, slipping on some ice four winters ago, or delivering their child, who is now six. They will describe pain in sitting, or when going from sit to stand, or when lying in bed. Sometimes they may need to get up and move around after sitting for a while because the area around the tailbone feels stiff. They may experience pressure around the tailbone, and the feeling that the tip of the tailbone could poke right through the skin. What shocks me is not the details of their story, but the amount of time they have been suffering. I’ve seen folks that have had pain for years, having never received much information about ways they could find relief.
How does this happen? Typically, if a patient has tailbone pain after a fall, they’ll visit their doctor and have an x-ray. Often (but not always) the x-ray is negative, meaning there is no fracture. The doctor will send them home with instructions to rest, and the understanding that the pain and bruising should resolve in a few weeks. Sometimes that is exactly what happens. When it doesn’t, however, and the patient returns to their family doctor several weeks later with persistent pain, the options presented to them are often minimal: take pain medication (which only masks the problem), and use a special cushion for sitting to keep pressure off the tailbone. This is as far as many patients get, and they can stay in this place for a long time, with persistent pain that limits activity, affects their ability to work (if work requires sitting), causes depression, and decreases overall quality of life.
Seeing this scenario over and over in my practice inspired me to make the video below. In it you will find a brief discussion of the anatomy that can play a part in tailbone pain, and the ways physical therapy – specifically pelvic floor physical therapy – can help. (Hint: It’s not only the tailbone that needs treating!) If you know someone dealing with tailbone pain, please share this video, and let them know that they have options. Relief and recovery are possible!
UPDATE! My new mini e-book is now available with more information on:
- How to find a pelvic floor physical therapist
- What to expect during evaluation and treatment
- How to manage your pain while you look for a therapist
Click here to get the e-book as a companion to the video below.
Debbie Turczan is a Physical Therapist specializing in Craniosacral Therapy, with offices in New York City and Long Island.