Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Lower Spine News

A Painful Tale about Tailbone Pain

The "tailbone" in humans is called the coccyx. Most of us aren't even aware that we have a coccyx. Coccygodynia is a painful tailbone. Because of the location of the pain, this condition often makes a person sit up and take notice!

Symptoms of coccygodynia are pain or tenderness in the tailbone area. Pain is made worse by sitting, especially on a hard chair. The pain may be coming directly from the coccyx or from the nearby tissues. Poor posture and long periods of sitting may bring it on. Pressure on any of the nerves that travel to or near the coccyx can cause a painful tailbone.

Pain in this area can also occur as a result of falling on the tailbone, from tumors, or as a result of referred pain. "Referred pain" comes from some other back problem, such as a herniated or damaged disc. A problem in the sacroiliac joint can also cause coccygodynia. The sacroiliac joints are formed where the triangular-shaped sacrum at the bottom of the low back fits between the two pelvic bones.

Researchers at the San Francisco Spine Institute reviewed the charts of 10,750 new patients over a five-year period of time. There were 77 cases of coccygodynia. Most of the patients got better with steroid injections or physical therapy, or by making changes in their workplace. Twenty percent had severe pain that didn't go away with treatment.

This study shows that surgery to remove the coccyx can help some people. Before doing the operation, doctors inject the coccyx area with a steroid drug. This can be done two different times. Relief may last days, weeks, or longer. If the symptoms return, the patient will likely benefit by having the tailbone removed. Pain is often reduced or gone afterward, allowing the patient to sit with greater comfort.


Richard Perkins, et al. Coccygectomy for Severe Refractory Sacrococcygeal Joint Pain. In Journal of Spinal Disorders. February 2003. Vol. 16. No. 1. Pp. 100-103.

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*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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