Coccydynia is a type of lower back pain felt around the last bone at the base of the spine (known as the coccyx or tailbone).

The pain of coccydynia can range from mild to severe and is usually worse when:

  • Sitting down – particularly if you are leaning backwards
  • Moving from sitting to a standing position

Some people can only tolerate sitting in the same position for a few minutes before having to move to relieve the pain.  The pain in and around your coccyx can sometimes make it very difficult to carry out everyday activities, such as driving, bending over or sitting down. It may seem odd, but sitting on a soft surface may be more painful than sitting on something hard. This is because sitting on a soft surface places most of your weight on your coccyx rather than on the hard bones below your pelvis.

Other symptoms

As well as pain in your coccyx, other symptoms of coccydynia may include:

  • Backache
  • Shooting pains down your legs
  • Pain before or when you pass stools
  • Pain during sex
  • Painful buttocks and hips
  • In women: increased pain during your period

If you have coccydynia, the pain in your coccyx can also make it difficult to sleep comfortably at night. You may need to keep changing positions while lying in bed.

What causes coccydynia?

Coccydynia can occur when something damages the coccyx or surrounding area, such as:

  • The muscles and ligaments supporting the coccyx stretching out of place during childbirth
  • Trauma to the coccyx, resulting from an accident
  • Pulling the coccyx out of its normal position, either through poor posture or repeated activity, such as cycling or rowing

In around a third of cases of coccydynia, no obvious cause can be found, although age-related “wear and tear” may play a part.

  • Treatment
  • Medication
  • Physiotherapy
  • Sacrococcygeal joint injections
  • Ganglion impar nerve block
  • Surgery