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' I had never heard of coccydynia until it hit me'. | Manchester Memorial

The sedentary lifestyle of youngsters is leading to arise in the

incidence of coccydynia, which is the medical term for pain in the

tailbone

PAIN HAS assumed a totally new dimension for 24-year-old PR

professional, Sakshi Arora since coccydynia hit her four years ago. She

was in her final year graduation when she developed pain in her lower

back, which she thought was a regular backache.

But when it got severe and ointment applications didn’t help,

she visited an orthopaedician who told her that the cause of the pain

was inflammation of her tailbone, a condition known as coccydynia.

“I'd never heard of coccydynia before. Was taken aback.

But my sole intention was to get rid of the pain. I took it in my

stride,”. Says Arora. The orthopaedician suggested she make changes

in her posture, do buttock exercises and take some other precautionary

measures. After one month of rest, the inflammation receded along with

her pain. “I was relieved and got back to my regular lifestyle.

Only when the pain resurfaced after a year did I realise that this

was going to be a lifetime phenomenon,”. She laments. By then Arora

was working as a freelance journalist. Her job involved regular field

work and travelling by road —. Factors that triggered the problem. The

same trail of rest, precautions and exercises followed and she was fine

within a month.

But she lives with the knowledge that her pain can flare up at any

time. “In the last four years, I've been hit by the pain thrice.

Although I'm fine now. I live with the fear that the pain may

return any time,”. She says.

Coccydynia refers to pain at the tip of the spine, called coccyx or

tailbone. While there are no figures in India, this is a rare condition

that accounts for less than 1 percent of all reported causes of lower

back pain, according to the department of orthopaedic surgery,

Manchester Memorial Hospital.

The sedentary lifestyle of urban Indians, including youngsters, has

much to do with the increase in the incidence of this condition.

“When we sit, pressure usually distributes in a triangular manner

to three points —. Two on the sitting bones of the pelvis. One on

the coccyx. This distribution largely depends upon the curvature and

length of the coccyx, which varies.

At times due to wrong posture or wide curvature of coccyx in some

individuals, more pressure falls on the coccyx, leading to chronic

stress in it and causing its inflammation followed by acute pain,”

says Dr O N Nagi, senior orthopaedician, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. Hence,

each time the swollen coccyx comes into contact with any object, it

causes pain. For such people, long hours of sitting in one position or

on hard surfaces, regular bus rides or travel on jerky roads, cycling,

horse riding. Any movement with jolts can trigger the problem. At

other times the tailbone may get damaged, dislocated or fractured during

an accident or fall on the back. This is called acute coccydynia and

those with this problem need more time to recover.

WOMEN AT HIGHER RISK

ALTHOUGH it can happen to anybody, anytime, people with a tendency

to slouch over chairs or those who regularly sit on hard surfaces for

long hours have a higher chance of developing this tailbone pain.

Women are usually more prone to it than men. ”. Nine out of the

ten people who come to me with coccydynia are women,”. Says Dr Ankur

Nanda, consultant spine surgeon, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre. Even a

study by Manchester Memorial Hospital reveals that this is five times

more common among women than in men. People with sedentary jobs are at a

higher risk of developing the problem too.

These apart, people who often commute by rickety buses or travel on

jerky roads are also vulnerable. In Delhi alone, more than 22 lakh people commute by the DTC on a daily basis, putting themselves at high

risk of developing this condition.

”. We've seen cases of coccydynia among women post childbirth

as well. This occurs due to use of forceps at the woman’s posterior

during delivery. Those with arthritis are also prone to developing this

condition since arthritis causes inflammation in bone joints and may

affect the tailbone too,”. Says Dr Nagi.

DETECTION IS A CHALLENGE

TWENTY- FIVEYEAR- OLD freelance consultant, Tanvi Sharma started

feeling pain in her lower back every time she sat for too long. “

It was so severe that I avoided going for movies with friends, and

preferred to stand and work on my computer than sit. I consulted a

physician who mistook it for spondylitis and prescribed me pain

killers,”. She says. It was only when her pain became persistent

that she visited an orthopaedician. ”. He told me I'd been sitting

on a swollen tailbone for quite some months,”. Says Sharma. Once

diagnosed, her treatment started and she recovered within six weeks.

Coccydynia diagnosis calls for a simple clinical examination, where

the orthopaedician can just touch the tailbone and check if there is an

inflammation.

However, at times it may be confused with regular backaches.

”. Sometimes tailbone pain can be due to some other spinal

problem, what we often call as referred pain. Also, the pain can be a

result of a disease in any internal organ around the tailbone.

One has to be aware of these factors as well. We should come to a

conclusion only after taking medical history of the patient, conducting

clinical examination and diagnosis,”. Says Dr Yash Gulati, senior

consultant orthopaedic surgeon in spine surgery &. joint replacement,

Apollo Hospital. Also, at times an ultrasound or X- Ray is conducted to

ensure there is no fracture.

The best treatment for coccydynia is rest. A person with this

problem must avoid subjecting her tailbone to pressure, which means

contact with a hard surface should be avoided. Other traditional

treatments may be effective.

If nothing works, then surgical removal of coccyx is the last

resort. As it’s a vestigial organ, its removal doesn’t cause

any harm to the body. Anyone with an achy tailbone knows that although

it’s isn't life threatening, it’s a big irritant as it

affects one’s day- to- day activities. Besides, it’s

embarrassing too. After all who likes to carry tubes and special

cushions wherever one goes!

monalisa.das@mailtoday.in

PETS &. SPOUSES

Known for their loyalty, pets are now coming to the rescue of

marriages too. Clinical psychologist Suzanne B Phillips of Long Island

University says that couples can take a cue from their relationship with

their pets, in which grudges don’t exist. Affection

doesn’t wax and wane. Apply the unconditional approach to your

spouse and watch the change occur!

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