The coccyx, or better known as the tail bone, makes up the lowest most portion of the spine and can be a source of acute or chronic pain. Despite its small size, the coccyx plays and important role in the lumbo-sacral area by providing various attachment points for some of the strongest ligaments in the body, as well as attachment points for the posterior hip and pelvic musculature.
When people present in clinic with pain in the lowest most portion of the spine, the coccyx is on top of the clinician’s working diagnosis list. When the coccyx is affected, people will often complain of sharp, pin point pain located at the upper portion of the gluteal folds. The pain is commonly caused from prolonged sitting or from trauma involving falling backwards on to the coccyx. The pain from an injury to the coccyx can be associated with bone bruising, ligament injury, joint subluxation (most commonly the sacro-coccygeal joint) or even a fracture of one of the segments of the coccyx.
With respect to the management of coccydynia, it’s important to note that 90% will completely recover from their pain within 6-8 weeks, even if a fracture is present, using conservative therapies which include; rest, ice, massage, joint mobilisations, TENS therapy, stretching of related musculature and acupuncture (L. Smallwood Lirette, et al., 2014). When pain does persist and turns chronic the methods of treatment would include steriod injection, and if the injection fails to relieve the pain, surgical intervention is advised.
In summary coccydynia is a common complaint seen by chiropractors and health professionals. It can be successfully treated with manual therapy and conservative treatment, however if the pain is mismanaged or ignored it can increase the likelyhood of becoming a chronic problem.
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In Good Health,
The Back To Health Clinic Team