There are numerous diseases that affect the tailbone. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health or NIH, the tailbone, also known as the coccyx, is a small bone located under the sacrum at the bottom of the spine 1. Common tailbone symptoms include pain in the tailbone region, pain with sitting, pain or numbness in the arms or legs and a tailbone growth that can be felt or observed.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Chordoma is a disease of the tailbone. According to the Chordoma Foundation--a non-profit organization dedicated to curing chordoma--it is a rare primary malignant bone cancer that manifests in the base of the skull and other portions of the spine, including the tailbone 2. The TCF reports that the incidence of chordoma is one per million per year and that there are about 300 new cases of chordoma each year in the United States. While chordoma affects people of all ages, the average age of onset is 49 years. According to the TCF, chordoma appears in men more often than women. People with chordoma live about seven years after being diagnosed and conventional biomedical treatment methods for chordoma include surgery and radiation. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons states that chordoma is a slow-growing tumor and that it can spread to other organs, especially the lungs 3.
Diseases of Excessive Bone Growth
Coccydynia is a disease of the tailbone 4. The Cleveland Clinic--one of the top four hospitals in the United States--states that coccydynia is an idiopathic condition of the tailbone that's characterized by pain in or around the coccyx 4. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the most common symptom associated with coccydynia is pain or tenderness in the tailbone when pressure is placed on involved area 4. Other common symptoms include severe pain when shifting from a sitting to standing position, pain during defecation, pain during sexual intercourse and a deep, dull ache in the region of the coccyx. The Cleveland Clinic states that coccydynia symptoms typically abate with standing or walking, when pressure is removed from the tailbone 4.
A pilonidal cyst is a disease of the tailbone 5. According to the Mayo Clinic website, a pilonidal cyst is an unusual pit or pocket in the skin overlying the tailbone, near the top of the buttocks' cleft, and pilonidal cysts often contain hair and other abnormal tissue 5. The Mayo Clinic website states that pilonidal cysts are more common in men and young adults and that unless a pilonidal cyst becomes infected, it's usually harmless 5. However, if a pilonidal cyst does become infected, it can form a pilonidal abscess, which may require surgical drainage 5. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health or NIH, there does not appear to be a definitive cause of pilonidal cysts, although some experts believe that genetics and ingrown hairs may be contributing factors 1. Common symptoms associated with pilonidal cysts include the following: pain, swelling and inflammation in the involved area, drainage of pus or blood from a skin opening and fever, among other symptoms.
Diseases of Excessive Bone Growth
Causes of Pain on the Right Side of the Neck Down to the Shoulder
Causes of Sharp Pain in the Left Leg
Types of Skeletal System Diseases
What Are the Symptoms of a Bruised Tailbone?
Causes of Pain in the Sigmoid Colon
Causes of Pain in the Upper Left Hip
Causes of Hip & Pelvic Pain
What Are the Causes of Pain in the Pelvic Bone?
Diseases That Cause Calf Muscle Pain
- National Institutes of Health: Tailbone Disorders
- The Chordoma Foundation: Overview
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Chordoma
- Cleveland Clinic: Coccydynia (Tailbone Pain)
- MayoClinic.com: Pilonidal Cyst
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- Foye PM, Abdelshahed DM, Kamrava E, Enriquez R, D'onofrio GJ. Tailbone Pain from Coccyx Injuries on Water Slides: A Case Series. J Emerg Med. 2018;55(2):e33-e35. doi:10.1016/j.jemermed.2018.04.033
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- Márquez-carrasco ÁM, García-garcía E, Aragúndez-marcos MP. Coccyx pain in women after childbirth. Enferm Clin. 2019;29(4):245-247. doi:10.1016/j.enfcli.2019.01.005
- Gonnade N, Mehta N, Khera PS, Kumar D, Rajagopal R, Sharma PK. Ganglion impar block in patients with chronic coccydynia. Indian J Radiol Imaging. 2017;27(3):324–328. doi:10.4103/ijri.IJRI_294_16
- Faubion SS, Shuster LT, Bharucha AE. Recognition and management of nonrelaxing pelvic floor dysfunction. Mayo Clin Proc. 2012;87(2):187–193. doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2011.09.004
- Uglialoro AD, Beebe KS, Hameed M, Benevenia J. A rare case of intraosseous benign notochordal cell tumor of the coccyx. Orthopedics. 2009;32(6):445. doi:10.3928/01477447-20090511-22
- Nunes LF, Castro Neto AK, Vasconcelos RA, et al. Carcinomatous degeneration of pilonidal cyst with sacrum destruction and invasion of the rectum. An Bras Dermatol. 2013;88(6 Suppl 1):59–62. doi:10.1590/abd1806-4841.20132140
- Dudareva M, Ferguson J, Riley N, Stubbs D, Atkins B, McNally M. Osteomyelitis of the Pelvic Bones: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Treatment. J Bone Jt Infect. 2017;2(4):184–193. doi:10.7150/jbji.21692
- Saleem S, Aslam HM, Rehmani MA, Raees A, Alvi AA, Ashraf J. Lumbar disc degenerative disease: disc degeneration symptoms and magnetic resonance image findings. Asian Spine J. 2013;7(4):322–334. doi:10.4184/asj.2013.7.4.322
- Jeyarajah S, Purkayastha S. Proctalgia fugax. CMAJ. 2013;185(5):417. doi:10.1503/cmaj.101613
- 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.
- Malanga GA, Yan N, Stark J. Mechanisms and efficacy of heat and cold therapies for musculoskeletal injury. Postgrad Med. 2015;127(1):57-65. doi:10.1080/00325481.2015.992719
- Scott KM, Fisher LW, Bernstein IH, Bradley MH. The Treatment of Chronic Coccydynia and Postcoccygectomy Pain With Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy. PM R. 2017;9(4):367-376. doi:10.1016/j.pmrj.2016.08.007
- Antoniadis A, Ulrich NH, Senyurt H. Coccygectomy as a surgical option in the treatment of chronic traumatic coccygodynia: a single-center experience and literature review. Asian Spine J. 2014;8(6):705–710. doi:10.4184/asj.2014.8.6.705
- Foye PM. Coccydynia: Tailbone Pain. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 2017 Aug;28(3):539-49.
- Lirette LS, Chaiban G, Tolba R, Eissa H. Coccydynia: An Overview of the Anatomy, Etiology, and Treatment of Coccyx Pain. Ochsner J. 2014 Spring;14(1):84-87.
- Nathan ST, Fisher BE, Roberts CS. Coccydynia: a review of pathoanatomy, aetiology, treatment and outcome. J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2010 Dec;92(12):1622-7.
Martin Hughes is a chiropractic physician, health writer and the co-owner of a website devoted to natural footgear. He writes about health, fitness, diet and lifestyle. Hughes earned his Bachelor of Science in kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and his doctoral degree from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Ore.