How to treat a painful tailbone?
February 2, 2010 2:33 PM   Subscribe

Have you ever successfully treated your coccydynia? If so, how?

My tailbone hurts. My doctor thinks it's probably broken, and says that there's not a whole hell of a lot that can be done. We don't know the cause, but it might be an old pregnancy-related injury that flared up again, this time constantly and more painfully.

I'm going to try massive amounts of Aleve for a few weeks, and do physical therapy for core strength. Do you have any other suggestions? Do you know any tailbone specialists in the Seattle area?

I'm not interested in chiropractic or acupuncture. I'm in good health, at a good weight, and rarely sit down (I chase small children around all day). Personal anecdotes welcome.
posted by The corpse in the library to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Unfortunately, I don't have too much to suggest other than to ask why you aren't considering acupuncture or chiropractic treatment.

I would think it a good idea to consider every possible solution.
posted by DoublePlus at 2:46 PM on February 2, 2010

How long has it been hurting? Just a couple of days or longer?
posted by radiomayonnaise at 2:49 PM on February 2, 2010

Response by poster: It's been hurting off and on for years, radiomayonnaise, but seriously hurting for a few weeks.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:53 PM on February 2, 2010

I fell down some stairs several weeks ago, and still use a donut cushion hidden in a velvet slipcover. A good multivitamin and high potency B-complex supplement ought to support your nervous system as you heal...other than that, I've tried not to exercise too much to give it time to work itself together. Good luck!
posted by aquafortis at 2:57 PM on February 2, 2010

Have you had an x-ray or an mri or something just to see what's going on in there? Maybe there's no way to fix it, but maybe you'll get a better idea of how to make it feel better if they can see exactly what the problem is. I know someone who had a few different "chronic pain" issues this year, all of which turned out to be mechanical issues that could only be fixed with (relatively simple) surgery, not with increasing quantities of pain killers. And all of them doctors didn't want to do anything for at first - "Oh take some cortisone, try some aleve, whatever". It took the x-ray image for them to say "OK, yeah, we can fix that." And believe me life is so much better now that they're all taken care of.
posted by amethysts at 2:57 PM on February 2, 2010

Response by poster: Just to stamp out that fire before it catches: why I don't want to do acupuncture, and why I don't want to go to a chiropractor.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:58 PM on February 2, 2010 [6 favorites]

Someone I know had a similar tailbone problem when we were younger (although not related to pregnancy). She had it manipulated by an osteopath and gained significant relief. Note when I say osteopath I mean the British/NZ kind, not the American kind, and he used physical manipulation like a physiotherapist would rather than the subluxion crap chiros use, so going to a physio would probably be your best bet for that. A good physio should be able to give input on stretching or strengthening exercises too if what you're currently doing doesn't work.

But you'd also need to know what was actually going on in there first so imaging studies as amethysts at has suggested might be a better next step assuming this doesn't resolve (and given how long you've been having problems escalating to an xray or whatever doesn't sound unreasonable to me).
posted by shelleycat at 3:16 PM on February 2, 2010

Best answer: I have a badly (and oddly) dislocated coccyx, have had for more than a decade. I do know of an Eastside (Bellevue) PT specialist who has treated me with good results.

In my case, at least, doughnut cushions were discouraged because they actually put more strain on the tailbone. I have found that PT and exercise helped a great deal. I've also had a cortisone injection. There is no possibility for relocating the offending parts as there isn't enough "joint" to hold the little buggers in place.

MeMail me if you want the contact info and/or commiseration.
posted by trinity8-director at 5:10 PM on February 2, 2010

Worst case scenario I believe you can actually have your coccyx removed. I do not know whether "it really hurts" is an indication for the procedure, though.
posted by Justinian at 5:15 PM on February 2, 2010

Best answer: Physical therapy. I looked for one with specific experience.
posted by moira at 5:55 PM on February 2, 2010

Best answer: I like this website, some useful stuff and first hand stories. It was started by a guy with coccyx pain. Nthing PT also, definitely look for some-one with experience treating this area. Good luck.
posted by bookrach at 6:51 PM on February 2, 2010

Sorry, link didn't seem to work-
posted by bookrach at 6:52 PM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

US osteopaths are the same as UK ones afaik, they are not chiropractors and use getnly manipulation. I've had good luck with one and do not like chiros very much.

You should get it x-rayed or scanned though, it might have healed crooked when you broke it and be pressing on a nerve.
posted by fshgrl at 8:54 PM on February 2, 2010

US osteopaths are the same as UK ones afaik, they are not chiropractors and use getnly manipulation.

There are important differences in their training, mainly that US osteopaths can also prescribe medicine and generally act as a doctor (wikipedia has info). If they focus on physical manipulation only then it's not really different than going a physio, and the same goes for a chiropractor actually (not all of them believe in the crap). But going to a qualified physiotherapist is usually the easiest way of being sure you're getting science based treatments, and I think in this case it would make sense to find one with experience in this area (as others have mentioned).
posted by shelleycat at 9:19 PM on February 2, 2010

Best answer: I broke my coccyx 15 years ago, and had treatment with varying degrees of success culminating in the surgical removal of my coccyx 7 years ago. I would strongly recommend as a resource to get started with, but very short guidance, remembering IANAD:

- get a donut / ring cushion, or a coccyx cut out cushion. use it!
- see a doctor, not a chiropractor or an osteopath. explore the possibility of interventional pain management to treat your pain. the right practitioner may be a surgeon, an anaesthetist specialising in pain management or possibly a rheumatologist. the site has a list of doctors who have experience treating coccydynia but it's by no means an exhaustive list! please see someone with actual medical qualifications rather than someone who wants to crack your bones to treat the problem.
- one possiblity often used is trial of a local nerve block to isolate the pain. Steroid injections + manipulation (under fluoroscopy, not just manipulating unguided!) are a good line of treatment if the nerve block shows you are a good candidate for treatment
- if steroid injections work but wear off, they can be repeated. if they work but with decreasing efficacy then radiofrequency denervation, whereby the nerves are burned (not as scary as it sounds!). again IANAD

if you've got coccydynia you may also have postural issues as you try to sit to avoid pain - you may not, but it's common. postural work and strength work to improve your core stability is superb for your spinal health in any case - Pilates was and is brilliant for me. A studio class so you can use the equipment to modify poses you may not be able to do in a matwork class is ideal. Look after your back - it'll thank you

I've lived with coccyx / sacrum problems for years so memail me if you want any more insight on my experiences (hasten to add NOT advice as you should only be getting that from your doctor / trained medical professional)
posted by kitschbitch at 2:06 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Follow up, for those who like closure: I went to a physical therapist (just a standard one, not a tailbone specialist), found out precisely what was wrong, learned some relevant exercises, and -- so long as I do the exercises -- I'm cured!

For people who find this because they're in the same situation: I probably had broken or damaged my tailbone, and then picked up poor habits because of the pain. This led to my hips being out of alignment, which hurt. But I've got exercises and stretches that are getting my hips back to where they should be, and doing core strength exercises will keep me from doing it again. No surgery, no shots, nothing more than a few weeks of Aleve (because of inflammation) and 10 - 20 minutes of exercises I can do at home daily.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:02 AM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

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