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Do Humans Really Need Their Tails??

Female pelvis

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I have often heard my patients refer to their coccyx or tail bone as their tails.  I also have heard many horror stories about their treatment, or lack thereof, after falling on the ice, getting bucked off a horse, or falling while snow boarding.  We ALL have fallen on our bottoms at least once in our lives.  One of the local doctors told me she thought that 20% of women fracture their coccyx during childbirth!!  Most of my patients have told me that they were advised to use a doughnut to sit on following injury and even with that they were in pain for two years following their injuries with limited ability to sit!!  Ouch!

As a Physical Therapist in my 23rd year of practice specializing in manual therapy, I myself never learned to evaluate and treat coccyx dysfunction until 3 years ago when I took a course on the pelvis.  I now know that the coccyx is surrounded by ligaments on each side, and when injured can be deviated in any direction (front, back, left or right) depending upon the pull of the injured ligament.  After taking courses on Women’s Health and treatment of urinary and fecal incontinence, I understand that the coccyx is like the anchor of the pelvic floor; it is the place where many of the muscles attach and in this way, coccyx dysfunction may be related to bladder dysfunction.

I now try to check the coccyx of all my patients who complain of low back pain and or urinary incontinence.  Although many of my patients deny coccyx pain or injury (some of us have poor memories), I still may find pain and dysfunction upon evaluating the coccyx.  For some, the pain may be referred to other areas in the low back or pelvis.  In fact I have treated patients who complained only of low back pain without lumbar spine dysfunction that resolved after treating the coccyx.   Evaluation of the coccyx is a very simple procedure that I perform in the sitting position. By placing my finger under the coccyx (the patient is sitting on my hand) I can move the coccyx in all directions and evaluate ligamentous tightness or pain which results in coccyx dysfunction.

So, in my humble opinion, we do need our tails and they are very important.  So remember, if you have coccyx pain, don’t ever have your coccyx removed!! (yes, some doctors really do that!!).

Mary Boyd, MS, PT is the owner of Mountain View Physical Therapy and can be reached at 290-5575 for questions or on the web at www.MtnViewPT.com .

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