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Is Tailbone Pain holding you back this summer?

What is Tailbone Pain holding you back from this summer, Calgary?

Summertime in Calgary always reminds me of four things- kitchen parties, hiking in the mountains around Banff and Kananaskis, floating down the Elbow River, and of course the Calgary Stampede rodeo. Believe it or not, these 4 activities all have something in common - the potential to injure our tailbone.

As a Chiropractor with expertise in fixing tailbone pain, I’ve met people who’ve hurt their tailbones in all sorts of ways. These include falling off their kitchen counter and landing on their bottom on their marble floor, scooting down a scree mountainside on their bottom, striking their bottom on a rock below the surface of a river while tubing, riding a horse, and yes, from giving birth too!

You’ll hear the jokes about how tailbone pain is the “lowest low back pain” or a “pain in the butt”, but after the first time you’ve experienced tailbone pain you would agree that it’s no joke. Tailbone pain can be a significant physical and emotional strain on our lives, too often lasting for months or years at a time. It too often prevents us from fully enjoying the activities we love to do like walking, riding a bike, sitting to watch a movie, being intimate with our partner, or exercising. People too often inadvertently live with tailbone pain because they don’t know who to ask for advice, don’t know what to do about it, and are embarrassed about their pain.

There is nothing to be embarrassed about. Most of my patients feel the same way to begin so the first most important thing I can do for them is give them the reassurance they need. Fortunately, most of my patients have found relief from their pain once we’ve spoken and agreed on the right treatment strategy for them. These could include treatments from a Chiropractor, Physician, Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, and self management strategies.

If you have tailbone pain and are ready to begin your path to making it go away, here are the first 3 strategies that I discuss with people who are in your exact situation.

First- How long to wait before seeking care from a doctor?

The medical evidence shows that most tailbone pains go away within 3 months of onset.

Consider how your pain started. Did you strike your tailbone and instantly had sharp pain, or did it slowly come on seemingly from nowhere?

If you think that there’s a chance that you fractured your tailbone, get it checked out right away. If the pain came on seemingly out of the blue, then consider getting the pain checked out sooner rather than later. There’s never a bad reason to double check a pain with your doctor.

If your tailbone pain has lasted more than 3 months, it means the pain will probably stick around unless you get it treated by a professional. For example, I once treated a woman who had difficulty walking upright for 2 years due to tailbone pain, and then had her pain and function resolved after only 3, fifteen-minute treatments.

Second- How can I self manage my tailbone pain while it’s healing?

Whether you are waiting for a tailbone trauma to heal or looking for temporary relief for your sore bottom, here are a few good choices for helping your backside feel better.

Coccyx cushions are pillows which you sit on to take pressure off the tailbone. I recommend the shape which slants forward a little and has a cut-out for the tailbone to rest in. These are great for desk work and people who need to drive throughout the day.

Even though we can’t specifically self-stretch the muscles which attach onto the tailbone, we can stretch the muscles which are close-by. Stretching our low back and gluteal muscles often help with tailbone pain and stretching our thigh muscles on the front and back of our leg usually helps with our functional tasks like walking and standing.

Third- What are my best treatment options if the pain isn’t going away by itself?

If you are even considering getting your tailbone pain treated, then you are taking your first steps to recovery. In my clinical experience, most people should try the least invasive methods first before progressing to more invasive treatments. Consult with your healthcare professional to determine which is best for you.

An experienced Chiropractor can stretch and mobilize the involved muscles and joints, including the coccyx, if they are not moving properly.

A specially trained pelvic health physiotherapist can help relax the right pelvic floor muscles and recommend exercises to strengthen them.

Manual therapies and rehabilitation exercises are effective treatments for tailbone pain, but if they aren’t working as quickly as I’d expect, then teaming up with your medical doctor to provide painkiller solutions including specific injections may be the next step.

Only very few cases of tailbone pain require a surgical consultation.

So, are you going to let tailbone pain hold you back this summer?

If any pain, tailbone or otherwise, is holding you back from participating in your favorite activities, then it might be time to call your closest Momentum Health or Evidence Sport and Spine location. Getting your tailbone pain looked at by a doctor might seem scary, but like all things in life if you are brave and align yourself with the right healthcare team for you, than you can finally put your tailbone pain… behind you.

Dr. Giancarlo Carpino

Dr. Giancarlo Carpino was born and raised in Calgary and is a qualified and registered Chiropractor in Alberta.

Dr. Carpino studied human biomechanics at the University of Calgary from 2012 to 2016, and subsequently obtained his Doctor of Chiropractic at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in 2020. He is certified to use acupuncture needling as a treatment modality.

Dr. Carpino has been in clinical practice since 2019 including at a rehabilitation hospital, an inner-city clinic, and a Motor Vehicle Accident specialty clinic. He has performed independent medical examinations at the North York General Hospital in Toronto in conjunction with Physiatrists, Psychiatrists, Chiropractors, and Neurologists. He has been involved in many pieces of biomechanics and clinical research and is a published author in this field.

Dr. Carpino is passionate about treating the musculoskeletal system including orthopaedic and movement-based issues, and he makes a point to understand and encourage his patients’ whole health. He has particular clinical interest and experience working with headaches, tailbone pain, chronic pains, and promoting healthy aging.

When not at the clinic, Dr. Carpino enjoys spending time with family and friends. Some of his hobbies include hiking, snowboarding, playing flag football, beach volleyball, disc golf, and coaching junior football.


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