Q&A With Dr Aliya: Is Tailbone Pain After Childbirth Normal?

After giving birth, you may experience tailbone pain, but is it normal?

Q.  After delivering my baby a few weeks ago, I’ve been experiencing pain in and around my tailbone. Sitting for any length of time is extremely uncomfortable and transferring from a seated to standing position is difficult. Is it normal to feel pain in this area after childbirth? Is there anything I can do to help ease this pain?

A.  Pain in the tailbone region is referred to as coccydynia and childbirth is thought to be one of the most common causes of this condition.

The coccyx is the anatomical term used for tailbone, which is the bone at the very bottom of the spine, in the buttock region. Some of the pelvic floor muscles as well as the big butt muscle, called the gluteus maximus, have attachments to the coccyx. As well, there are numerous ligaments that connect the coccyx to the sacrum, which create strength and stability at the base of the spine.

Coccydynia occurs when there is damage to the coccyx itself and/or the surrounding structures. Childbirth can cause the muscles and ligaments around the coccyx to overstretch and become unstable, no longer supporting and stabilizing the lower spine, sacrum and coccyx. In addition, the tailbone itself can be damaged due to shear physical trauma of the baby traveling through the birth canal. 

Increased inflammation and tenderness of the soft tissues in the area leave many women feeling increased pain and discomfort when sitting, even for short periods of time. Some women find moving from sitting to standing difficult and performing everyday activities, such as driving, bending over and lifting can also be quite challenging. Other symptoms of coccydynia may include: back pain, shooting pain down the legs, increased pain when passing stools, and pain during sex. 

In most cases, coccydynia does resolve after a few months depending on the extent of injury. Manual therapy, acupuncture and exercises can help relieve pain and sensitivity, restore mobility, reduce inflammation and improve strength. Specific exercises can help to strengthen the core muscles and stabilize joints in the tailbone area. 

Here are few self-care tips you can try at home that may help ease pain and discomfort:

  • Sitting—there are specifically designed “donut” pillows or cushions that can reduce pain when sitting.  It may also help to sit on a hard surface rather than a soft cushion chair or sofa.
  •  Sleeping—many people with coccydynia find sleeping on their sides more comfortable with a pillow placed between the knees.
  • Avoid high impact activity—avoiding activities such as running and jumping can help improve healing.

Do you have a question for Dr. Aliya? Send an email to editor@babypost.com with Dr. Aliya in the subject line and check back every Thursday to see what Dr. Aliya is writing about each week! 

A health practitioner, chiropractor and acupuncturist with a distinct integrative care approach, Aliya brings extensive experience in pre-natal and pediatric wellness to her clinical practice at Restore Integrative Health  in Toronto. She is also a runner, yoga instructor and new mother.

Visit her website at draliya.ca or follow her on Twitter @DrAliyaVisram or on Instagram @DrAliyaVisramDC

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