Many studies find that non-surgical treatments are successful in approximately 90% of coccydynia cases. 1 Lirette LS, Chaiban G, Tolba R, Eissa H. Coccydynia: an overview of the anatomy, etiology, and treatment of coccyx pain. Ochsner J. 2014;14(1):84‐87. Treatments for coccydynia are usually noninvasive and include activity modification.

Self-Care Treatment for Coccyx Pain Relief

The first line of treatment typically includes self-care that can be done without the assistance of a medical professional, such as some of the following:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

An illustration showing medication(NSAIDs).

NSAIDs may help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.

Common NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), or COX-2 inhibitors (Celebrex), help reduce the inflammation around the coccyx that is usually a cause of the pain.

Ice or cold pack

Various types pf cold pack.

Cold packs reduce inflammation and numb the area.

Applying ice or a cold pack to the area several times a day for the first few days after the pain starts can help reduce inflammation, which typically occurs after injury and adds to the pain.

Heat or heating pad

A woman receiving heat therapy on her back.

Application of a heat pack to the lower back may help relieve muscle tension.

Applying heat to the bottom of the spine after the first few days of pain may help relieve muscle tension, which may accompany or exacerbate coccyx pain. Common heat sources include a hot water bottle, chemical heat pack, long-lasting adhesive heat strip, or hot bath (as long as weight is kept off the tailbone in the

advertisement

Activity modification

A woman using a standing desk.

Using a standing desk may help take pressure off the tailbone.

Alterations to everyday activities can help take cumulative pressure off of the tailbone and alleviate pain. These activity modifications may include using a standing desk to avoid prolonged sitting, using a pillow to take the weight off the coccyx, or adjusting posture so weight is taken off the tailbone when sitting.

Supportive pillows

A custom pillow that takes pressure off the coccyx when sitting may be used. Pillows for alleviating coccydynia may include U- or V-shaped pillows, or wedge-shaped pillows with a cutout or hole where the tailbone is. Any type of pillow or sitting arrangement that keeps pressure off the coccyx is ideal and largely a matter of personal preference. A supportive cushion can be useful in the car, as well as in an office, classroom, or at home.

See Different Types of Pillows

Dietary changes

An illustration showing a plate of spinach.

A fiber-rich diet can help improve bowel movements and reduce tailbone pain.

If tailbone pain is caused by or worsened with bowel movements or constipation, increased fiber and water intake, as well as stool softeners, is recommended.

See Food for Thought: Diet and Nutrition for a Healthy Back

If the above treatments do not help manage or alleviate coccyx pain, additional treatments administered by a doctor, chiropractor, or other medical professional may be necessary.

Non-Surgical Treatments for Coccydynia

If tailbone pain is persistent or severe, additional non-surgical treatment options for coccydynia may include:

Injection

An illustration showing components of steroid injection.

An injection containing steroid and anesthetic may provide temporary pain relief.

An injection of a numbing agent (lidocaine) and steroid (to decrease inflammation) in the area surrounding the coccyx may provide pain relief. The physician uses imaging guidance to ensure that the injection is administered to the correct area. Pain relief can last from 1 week up to several years. If the first injection is effective, patients may receive up to 3 injections in a year.

Manual manipulation

An illustration showing trigger points in the lower back.

Manual manipulation involves hands-on techniques to relieve tailbone pain.

Some patients find pain relief through manual manipulation of the coccyx. Through manual manipulation, the joint between the sacrum and the coccyx can be adjusted, potentially reducing pain caused by inadequate coccyx mobility.

See Spinal Manipulation: High-Velocity Low-Amplitude (HVLA)

Massage

A woman receiving massge on her back.

Massage may help loosen tight pelvic muscles and induce a calming effect.

Coccydynia may be reduced or alleviated by massaging tense pelvic floor muscles that attach to the coccyx. Tense muscles in this region can place added strain on the ligaments and sacrococcygeal joint, limiting its mobility or pulling on the coccyx.

See Massage Therapy for Lower Back Pain

Stretching

Gently stretching the ligaments attached to the coccyx can be helpful in reducing muscle tension in the coccygeal area. A physical therapist, chiropractor, physiatrist, or other appropriately trained healthcare practitioner can provide instruction on appropriate stretches for relieving coccyx pain.

Watch 3 Easy Stretches for Coccydynia (Tailbone Pain) Relief Video

advertisement

TENS unit

A person receiving TENS therapy in the lower back.

TENS therapy uses electrical stimulation to relieve pain.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS) units apply electric stimulation that interferes with the transmission of pain signals from the coccyx to the brain. These devices can be good option for patients who wish to keep their intake of medications to a minimum. There are many varieties of TENS units, with some using high-frequency stimulation that are worn for short periods of time, and others using low-frequency stimulation that may be worn longer.

After attaining sufficient pain relief so movement is better tolerated, daily low-impact aerobic activity is beneficial, as the increased blood flow brings nutrients to the area and encourages the body’s natural healing abilities. An additional benefit of aerobic activity is the release of endorphins, the body’s innate pain-relieving chemicals.

See Exercise and Back Pain

If non-surgical treatments or pain management methods are effective, prolonged use of these methods is a reasonable treatment option. In rare cases, a patient’s pain does not respond to non-surgical treatments and surgery on the coccyx may be considered.

Dr. Richard Staehler is a physiatrist at the NeuroSpine Center of Wisconsin. He has more than 20 years of experience providing non-surgical treatment for spine pain.

  • 1 Lirette LS, Chaiban G, Tolba R, Eissa H. Coccydynia: an overview of the anatomy, etiology, and treatment of coccyx pain. Ochsner J. 2014;14(1):84‐87.
advertisement