by Erik Dalton Ph.D.
Coccyx pain was first documented in 1588, and Simpson coined the term “coccydynia” in 1859. The word coccyx comes from the Greek word for cuckoo, which resembles a cuckoo’s beak. The human coccyx is composed of approximately 3-5 individual segments or coccygeal vertebrae. Ida Rolf called the coccyx “the seat of the soul” (Fig. 1).
Coccyx pain commonly results from trauma such as a fall or a direct blow during contact sports. This type of injury can result in a fracture or dislocation at the sacrococcygeal joint causing abnormal movement during sitting and significant pain. It is also seen in bike riders, rowers and computer junkies due to prolonged pressure to the area.
Childbirth is another common cause of coccyx injury. During the last trimester of childbirth, the coccyx becomes more mobile, allowing for greater flexion and extension. This can cause damage to the attached musculoligamentous tissues, an inflammatory response, and osteoarthritis of the sacrococcygeal joint.
A common client complaint many of you have heard, is that physicians minimize, dismiss, or belittle the client’s symptoms. Indeed, many MDs may have a bias against patients with coccyx pain, which has been referred to as the “lowest form of low back pain.” But, tailbone pain is often relatively severe and persistent, causing significant compromise of the client’s ability to perform or endure various activities.