Delray Care Physical Therapy

Are you having back or leg pain that is resistant to traditional treatments? Try having your coccyx evaluated

This sounds strange, and in fact, very few physical therapists (PTs) have this training. Most clinicians avoid this small part of the spine, that many refer to as the “tail bone”, and only address it when it’s fractured. However, a PT who’s skilled in applying manual therapy to this “keystone structure” (Greg Johnson 2020 CBI – Institute of Physical Art) can determine if it’s playing a role in your symptoms. If the coccyx is involved, once it’s treated, symptoms should improve rapidly.

Here’s the catch, a dysfunctional coccyx will only improve with direct treatments (In other words, you can’t treat nearby structures, such as the sacrum, to correct the coccyx).

This often overlooked area is so important because of its extensive myofascial and neurogenic attachments. Moreover, Greg Johnson, PT, FFMT, FOAMT, (a highly skilled PT who has taught thousands of therapists advanced techniques through the Institute of Physical Art) teaches that the coccyx is involved in every single movement of the body.

One of the most obvious examples is when you bend forward at the waist to tie your shoes. In order to accomplish this task, your spinal cord must elongate by several centimeters. Most of this lengthening occurs at a bungee type structure called the filum terminale which attaches directly to your coccyx (Cheryl Wardlaw, PT 2020 Taiming Pain, class from the institute of Physical Art). Consequently, a dysfunctional coccyx can limit this important tissue, causing repercussions in other parts of your spine.

Another noteworthy example is the pelvic floor’s dependence upon the coccyx. A coccyx that is out of alignment or not moving efficiently, will inhibit this key aspect of your core. This can, in turn, decrease stability, cause discomfort, contribute to incontinence, and place you at risk for future injuries.

Listing all of the instances where a poorly performing coccyx can inhibit a seemingly unrelated structure is beyond the scope of this post. However, hopefully after reading this, if you’re suffering from pain that has been impervious to standard treatment, you’ll consider the coccyx as a possible culprit.