How did I hurt myself from sitting?
December 31, 2007 6:00 AM   Subscribe

What is this pain in my tailbone? Last night while seated normally in a futon I shifted my weight slightly and a shooting pain went up through my tailbone area. It came back whenever I curved my spine forward slightlly. I hoped it would go away with a good night's sleep, but it hasn't and moving around difficult to do without feeling like I'm being stabbed. It feels like a badly pulled muscle. Has anyone had this?

I hadn't been doing anything strenuous before sitting down, and I was seated for a good hour or so before the problem began. There's no way I could have broken anything. I have to maintain a very tight lumbar curve to do anything without pain, and bending over, sitting down, walking, twisting, etc all cause problems. Ibuprofen isn't doing much. I would see a doctor, but they're not open until Wednesday. What is this? What did I do? What do I do?
posted by schroedinger to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
Something similar happened to me a few months ago. I got out of bed around 4 in the morning to take a leak and something went awry in the base of my back, possibly to the side of my tailbone. It hurt whenever I started to sit down, at the beginning of my descent. When I woke again a few hours later it was still there. I was pissed because I'd been injuring myself constantly in the gym and couldn't believe I'd injured myself again just getting out of bed. At some point mid-afternoon, after weighing the risks, I decided to stretch, and the problem went away.

So I guess, in my case, something in me had cramped up real bad, and if the same holds of your case then maybe you should try icy-hot and stretching. Then again, if it's a pulled muscle, that might be the exact wrong thing to do...but I don't know how you could've pulled a muscle.
posted by creasy boy at 6:14 AM on December 31, 2007

You're in pain basically all the time? Might be a good time to consider an urgent care clinic. You don't say where you are, but if you have access to a nurse advice line, you might want to call them.

You could try taking ibuprofen together with acetaminophen. Or ask your pharmacist for a suggestion.
posted by grouse at 6:16 AM on December 31, 2007

I'm not in pain all the time. When I sit and relax, stand, or lie down, I'm mostly OK. Once I start moving things hurt since it's hard to move without twisting or bending my body.
posted by schroedinger at 6:20 AM on December 31, 2007

Sorry schroedinger, I was unclear. While being in pain all the time would be worse, I think being in pain whenever you move is pretty severe. More than say, an intermittent pain every few minutes. You should consider whether it merits seeking immediate attention. Another 50 hours of this won't be fun.
posted by grouse at 6:22 AM on December 31, 2007

it could be a pinched nerve or a muscle cramp or muscle strain. try ice packs for 15-20 minutes (a bag of frozen veggies is fine) then moist heat for 15-20 minutes (micorwave a wet towel or something similar).

if you have a heating pad, try laying on that, but be sure to only use it for 20 minutes or so at a time.

basically, take it easy. if you're still in a lot of pain on wednesday, see a doctor then.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 6:49 AM on December 31, 2007

I can't tell you why you have it or how best to treat it, but what you describe could be coccydynia, which has a variety of causes and treatments. Perhaps giving it a name will help you find more information.
posted by TedW at 7:15 AM on December 31, 2007

it could be a pinched nerve

The Sciatic nerve to be specific, can range from a mild annoyance to a cripplingly painful pinched nerve. I have much experience with it. I pinch it probably about once a year. I have done it through heavy exertion like lifting something, but also through seemingly innocent activity, like tying my shoe, and not straightening up properly.

Frankly, the only thing that really helps me when I have it is to lie down on the floor. It takes me a couple of days of no lifting and no bending for the nerve to get back in place. Some things like chiropractic or acupuncture might give temporary relief, but I have learned at this point to go straight to the doctor (or emerg clinic on a holiday) and get narcotics.

After this is all over, look into healthy stretching and exercise for your back to prevent further problems. Like my shoe-tying, it really shouldn't happen from just shifting around while you're on the couch.
posted by poppo at 7:26 AM on December 31, 2007

If it's a pinched nerve -- I've had that too, twice, in my upper back. Stretching, icy-hot, hot showers and rest helped with that too. Also the second time I went to a physiotherapist, who basically made me warm and then pulled on everything.
posted by creasy boy at 7:52 AM on December 31, 2007

Seconding sciatica. I go to the chiropractor when mine kicks in.

Warning: My chiropracter is the shit. He travels with the US Olympic team delegations. He is that good. A bad chiro can make things worse. Get personal recommendations!

posted by DarlingBri at 11:41 AM on December 31, 2007

I've had a similar thing happen to me in junior high during a particularly awkward game of football. Being the non-athlete I am, I stretched my lower back whilst trying to catch the ball. I wound up having a shooting pain in my back every time I went from sitting to standing and vice versa. One trip to the E.R. later (and the unfortunate standing up for over two hours waiting to see the doctor because I couldn't sit down) and I was told I'd pulled a muscle along my tailbone and that the pain should subside in a few days.

It did, after several warm baths and only sitting down slowly on a pile of pillows.
posted by betafilter at 11:48 AM on December 31, 2007

From your description it sounds like it could also be a pilonidal cyst -- they are ridiculously common, apparently. They tend to appear very close to the tail bone, and generally will go unnoticed until it starts hurting. Since your pain seems to come with pressure (from sitting down), I'd look into the possibility. If it is a cyst, you might need surgery to excise it.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 1:37 PM on December 31, 2007

Have you taken some ibuprofen or similar? Besides making you feel better right now, ibuprofen is kind of my miracle cure for back pain, in that the anti-inflammatories combined with the temporary lack of pain (and therefore return to normal movement) will do like creasy boy suggests and work out the kinks in my back. Usually I like to do this right before I fall asleep, too, since while you sleep you move your back in all kinds of stretchy but normally safe ways.
posted by anaelith at 7:36 PM on December 31, 2007

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