sitting pretty: preventing and dealing with pain in your tailbone

Sitting Pretty: Preventing and Dealing with Pain in Your Tailbone

Your tailbone is an essential part of your body that helps to maintain balance while you are sitting as well as acts as an attachment point for vital muscle groups of your pelvic floor. When you experience pain in your tailbone it can range from minor annoyance to debilitating. Depending on the cause of your pain, you may even need to find a way to work around it while your tailbone heals. There are some simple strategies that you can implement to deal with as well as prevent pain before it starts.

Function of Your Tailbone

Your tailbone, or coccyx, is located at the base of your spine. It consists of several vertebrae. It is an attachment site for muscles, tendons, and ligaments as well as an insertion point of some of the pelvic floor muscles. Your coccyx is responsible for providing the necessary stability and support to assist with balance while you are in a seated position.

Tailbone Pain

Pain on or around the base of your spine can be caused by trauma to your coccyx from a fall, continuous irritation, childbirth, degeneration of the vertebral joints, or sitting on hard surfaces for prolonged periods. You may have dull and achy sensations when dealing with tailbone pain, which can usually become sharper during specific activities such as standing up from a seated position, sitting, or even standing for long periods.

When you are experiencing tailbone pain, often referred to as coccydynia, you might find that it subsides by itself within a couple weeks or months. In the meantime, you may find it helpful to:

  • Use a cushion to relieve pressure on your tailbone
  • Use topical anti-inflammatory creams to reduce inflammation and swelling
  • Apply ice or heat to the affected area
  • Use over the counter pain relievers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Lean forward while sitting to reduce pressure on your tailbone

Self-care is often recommended for the initial treatment of coccydynia as it is most likely to dissipate over time. You may want to start by administering caution while caring for this area as any damage to tissue could take a while to heal. Depending on the severity of your pain, you may even want to speak with your doctor to get accurate diagnosis and treatment, especially if pain persists for more than a couple of months.

You may also find it helpful to participate in exercises that can help to relax the muscles of your pelvic floor in order to relieve pressure that could be exacerbating your tailbone pain. Simple stretching exercises can often help to reduce tension in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that surround your tailbone. This can also help to alleviate possible imbalances that are causing strain on your tailbone.

Yoga is a great example of stretching exercises that promote the support and stability of tissues as well as the alignment of your spine. By exercising you may find that the fluid exchange such as nutrients and oxygen-rich blood assist with speeding your recovery time. Some of these poses include:

  • Chakraasana, or Sun Bird Pose
  • Parsvakonasana, or Side Angle Pose
  • Trikonasana, or Triangle Pose
  • Danurasana, or Bow Pose
  • Garbhasasana, or Child’s Pose

Massage therapy may help to reduce tension in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that are surrounding your coccyx. It can also help to promote improved circulation and stress relief which can assist with the healing process. As it may be tender to the touch you should discuss the pain with any massage therapist before beginning treatment. You may even find that heat applied through the use of warm towels or oils during your massage can penetrate soft tissues and help with relief of tension and stiffness. If nothing else, it is a good excuse to go and get a relaxing massage.

In Conclusion

Your tailbone is a functional part of your vertebral column, assisting with your balance while in a seated position, serving as an attachment point for major muscles, ligaments, and tendons, as well as an important insertion point for some of the muscles in your pelvic floor.

When you experience pain in this area, it can certainly make simple daily activities a bit harder. However, with a bit of caution and self-care, you can help increase your comfort until it heals a couple weeks to months down the line. If you start to experience severe pain, or it lasts more than several months, you should seek the advice of your physician for the appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

You can also effectively prevent pain in this area by avoiding trauma directly on your tailbone, sitting for long periods on hard surfaces, as well as participating in exercises that promote joint health such as yoga.

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