Font Size

Tailbone (Coccyx) Injury (cont.)


What Symptoms and Signs May Accompany Tailbone Pain?

The symptoms of tailbone pain are typically exacerbated by actions that exert pressure or directly contact the coccyx. The pain is usually relieved by removing pressure off the coccyx, such as occurs when standing or walking.

  • Severe localized pain or a deep ache may be felt in the tailbone area when touched.
  • If the injury is traumatic, a bruise may be visible in the coccyx area.
  • The pain is generally worse when sitting for prolonged periods of time on a hard surface or with direct pressure to the tailbone area.
  • Bowel movements and straining may be painful.
  • Some women may experience pain during sexual intercourse.

When Should Someone Seek Medical Care for Tailbone Pain?

If someone has symptoms of coccyx pain or unexplained discomfort in the coccyx area, contact a health-care professional. A physician may need to examine the patient to determine the underlying cause of the coccyx pain and to exclude any potentially serious conditions which can lead to tailbone pain. Furthermore, if there is a traumatic injury to the coccyx, imaging studies sometimes may need to be performed.

What Specialists Treat Tailbone Pain?

The vast majority of cases of tailbone pain can be managed by a primary-care physician, such as a family physician or internist. In the rare case of surgical intervention, a spine surgeon will be consulted. For those individuals who suffer from chronic, refractory coccyx pain, a physician who specializes in pain management may also be involved.

What Tests Do Health-Care Professionals Use to Diagnose Tailbone Pain?

The cause of coccyx pain is largely determined based on a thorough medical history and a physical examination by a health-care professional. He or she will inquire about recent injuries to that area as well as any factors that make the pain better and worse. Occasionally, X-rays or other imaging studies of the coccyx may be performed.

  • The vertebral column (spine) will be examined for areas of tenderness, redness, swelling, or bruising. A neurologic examination may be performed. A rectal examination may also be performed. For this exam, the health-care provider inserts a finger into the rectum to feel the area of the coccyx in order to determine if there is a dislocation or fracture that can be felt, and if direct pressure against the coccyx reproduces the pain.
  • X-rays may be taken to determine whether or not there is a fracture or dislocation of the coccyx, and this is usually done if there is a history of trauma or injury to this area. However, X-rays may not always reveal these injuries. Some physicians recommend X-rays in both the standing and seated positions to better determine the presence of a fracture or dislocation. Rarely, at the discretion of the health-care professional, a CT scan, MRI, or bone scan may be ordered at a later time if X-rays do not reveal the cause of the continuing coccyx discomfort, or if there are concerns about a tumor or infection as the cause of the pain.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/20/2017

Must Read Articles Related to Tailbone (Coccyx) Injury

Bicycle Safety
Bicycle Safety Bicycling is both a common form of recreation and transportation, which means it's important to remain safe through wearing protective gear like helmets and obe...learn more >>
CT Scan (CAT Scan, Computerized Axial Tomography)
CT Scan What is a CT scan? Computerized tomography scans (CT scans) are important diagnostic tools for a variety of medical conditions. Some areas of the body frequentl...learn more >>
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a scanner that takes cross-sectional images of the body. It is used to evaluate tissues of the head, neck, chest, limbs, abd...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Tailbone Pain (Coccydynia):

Tailbone Pain - Describe Your Injury

Please describe your tailbone injury.

Tailbone Pain - Recovery Time

What was the recovery time for your tailbone pain?

Tailbone Pain - Treatment

What was the treatment for your tailbone pain?

Tailbone Pain - Cause

What caused your tailbone pain?

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Coccyx Pain »

Coccyx pain (tailbone pain) can frustrate patients and significantly impair quality of life, but relief is possible.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary