I play lots of sports-currently I’m wrestling. A few weeks ago I was thrown and pinned on my tail bone. I was in instant pain. Mom took me to doctor but x-rays were fine. Pain is getting worse! Could there be problems even if tests showed normal?

Thanks for your question. As an athlete, you may be used to dealing with intermittent pain. Good for you for listening to your body and recognizing this is not normal.

Briefly, whenever you have pain that’s getting worse it’s a good idea to see a healthcare provider (even if you already saw one). While an X-ray gives a quick picture of your tailbone, it’s not perfect, and there may be more treatment options.

Read on to learn more about tailbone pain.

What causes tailbone pain?

The tailbone is called the coccyx. The medical term for tailbone pain is coccydynia. Common causes of coccydynia in teen and young adult athletes include:

–          Injury from a fall or other trauma. This can cause a bruise or broken bone (also called fracture).

–          Strain from repeated use.

Other general causes of coccydynia include: sitting for long periods of time, nutritional status (weighing too much or too little), pregnancy, or cancer (which is much less common).

Is there anything I can do at home to help decrease the pain?

There are some things you can try at home, including:

  • Rest.
  • Take over-the-counter medicines for inflammation and pain.
    • Note: It’s a good idea to check with your healthcare provider to make sure the medicines are safe based on your medical history and allergies.
  • Take a warm/hot bath.
  • Use a pillow for extra support. There are pillows that are donut-shaped which can help reduce the pressure on your coccyx while sitting.

When should I see a health care provider?

You should see a health care provider for coccydynia if:

  • You notice the pain is not improving after a couple of days
  • You notice the pain medicine is not working

You should see a health care provider immediately if:

  • The pain is severe,
  • You are having problems walking,
  • You notice numbness or tingling in your legs or back, or
  • You are having any problems urinating (peeing) or stooling (pooping)

What will the health care provider do?

The health care provider will do an exam, including touching your back and coccyx.

They may get images of your tailbone. Often this means getting an X-ray. If the X-ray is normal, but the pain is severe or persistent they may get an MRI or CT, which can give more details about the bone, muscles, and ligaments.

They may recommend additional treatment, including:

  • Prescription medications to help with the pain
  • Physical therapy
  • Referral to a specialist