Why Do I Have Tailbone Pain and How Do I Fix It?

Why Do I Have Tailbone Pain and How Do I Fix It?

A few years ago, when completing a backpacking trip through South America I took a bus to Salento, Colombia, a popular coffee-producing town in the country.  The bus had long benches with no seatbelts and to get to the town we had to drive on cutback roads that had us going up and down huge hills in the valley we were driving in. The lack of seatbelts and constant turns made me slide across the bench of the bus for the 4 hours it took us to reach our destination. The next day, I woke up with excruciating tailbone pain, that became worse with sitting, using the washroom and transitioning between sitting and standing positions.

Tailbone pain can make everyday tasks feel uncomfortable or just unbearable.  

One of the most common actions that elicits tailbone pain occurs when you go to the bathroom. This happens because the muscles that attach to your tailbone contract and pull on your tailbone when you use to the bathroom, causing pain. The same thing may happen when you have sex.

Other symptoms of tailbone pain include tenderness and tightness in the area.

Many think that their tailbone pain will go away on it’s own without treatment but that doesn’t always happen.

In this article we’ll discuss the possible causes of tailbone pain and treatment options to ease the pain.

Why does my tailbone hurt?

There are many activities that can cause tailbone pain. One of the most common causes is repeated sitting for long periods time. This is especially true when sitting on hard surfaces. Another major cause of this type of pain is experiencing a direct trauma to your tailbone, such as falling on ice.

Other causes include:

 – Overuse of the tailbone that occurs with repetitive movements. 

 – Pregnancy. You see, during the last trimester of pregnancy the ligaments around the tailbone start to loosen to give more room for the baby. This may cause discomfort in the tailbone area.

How to treat tailbone pain

There are a few things you can attempt to help relieve the pain. First, reducing the pressure on your tailbone throughout the day may be helpful.  Reducing the amount of time you sit throughout the day will reduce the mechanical pressure on the tailbone and will also help the nerves that supply the area to become less sensitive.

Another way to relieve tailbone pain is to use a coccyx pillow while sitting. This is a doughnut-shaped pillow that takes the pressure off of your tailbone. 

Other ways to manage the pain are:

Ice packs – These can be used early on to reduce inflammation after an injury or fall.

Heat – helps relieve tightness and tension later in the recovery process

Heat Therapy courtesy of Active Recovery Physiotherapy & Hand Clinic (Read the caption)

However these modalities do not fix the main cause of the pain. If you want to find the source of your tailbone pain and completely reduce it then you need to find a pelvic floor Physiotherapist. These physiotherapists specialize in treating Tailbone pain and other conditions related to the pelvic area.

They do this by helping you improve the function of your pelvic floor (part of the tailbone) which can help relieve pain when defecating, urinating, etc.

During your first treatment session your pelvic floor physiotherapist will complete a detailed assessment of your symptoms. They then will have you complete functional movements and tests to determine the source of your pain. Based on these assessments, they will create and carry out a treatment plan to get you feeling better. This can include:

Teaching you proper sitting position to take the pressure off of the tailbone.

Mobilization techniques to reduce tailbone pain and increase mobility.

Adjustment – gentle manipulation to the joint between the sacrum and tailbone helping to ease the pain.

TENS – This a device which uses electrical stimulation to help reduce pain.

Check out this great post from Koonar Physiotherapy and learn more about TENS machine and its benefits (Read the caption):

Showing you movement strategies to prevent reinjury and ease pain.

Demonstrating tailbone pain exercises to reduce tension in the area

Additionally they will work to differentiate your injuy from other similar conditions such as sit bone pain. Sit bone pain occurs when you experience pain in the bones below your buttock muscles. This condition is very commonly associated with dysfunction in your hamstring muscles. It is important to have a specialist help you differentiate between tailbone pain and sit bone pain!

So if you’d like to get rid of your tailbone pain you can book an appointment with one of our Pelvic Floor Physiotherapists by clicking the “find a clinic near you” button on this page.


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most of the time tailbone pain is treated successfully and does not require surgery. 

Sleeping positions to ease tailbone pain include sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs. If you prefer to sleep on your back, you can add a pillow under your knees to take the pressure off your tailbone. You should consult with a physiotherapist to determine the most optimal sleeping position.

Yes! If you sit too long it can put excess pressure on your tailbone when sitting. Taking frequent breaks from sitting is a great way to reduce the onset of tailbone pain.

About Taylor Sipos

Taylor is a physiotherapist at The Orthopaedic Therapy Clinic located in Toronto, Ontario. He treats patients with various musculoskeletal conditions using patient education, exercise therapy, manual therapy and acupuncture. His treatment philosophy involves giving his patient’s the means to self-manage their injuries. He does this through reassurance, education and health promotion. Taylor uses the same principles as a patient educator at Pain Hero. He aims to provide you with high-quality, easy to understand information to teach you about your condition and how to improve it.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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