Nearly half the mothers who have had difficult deliveries, especially those involving forceps or other surgical instruments, suffer from a certain under-diagnosed condition: dislocation of the coccyx (tailbone).
The problem isn’t likely to go away. As mothers’ weight and age and babies’ birth weights increase, the likelihood of tailbone damage will increase, according to the Birth Trauma Association.
The human tailbone is made up of small vertebrae and attached to the spine by a joint. The coccyx is incredibly sensitive to pain when injured, and damage to the tailbone during delivery can result in months or years of pain and disability.
Coccydynia (misalignment of the coccyx) can be caused by:
- A fall onto the tailbone in the seated position against a hard surface
- A blow to the tailbone during contact sports
- Repetitive stress, such as horseback riding
- Tumor or infection
- Pressure against the disc, ligaments, and bones during childbirth
Once injured, the tailbone can cause many different health problems, including:
- Pain in sitting
- Pain during bowel movements
- Pelvic floor dysfunction (this can lead to bladder leakage)
- Pain during/after intercourse
- Pain in the neck and lower back
The risk for dislocation of the coccyx is decreased if a woman has a cesarean section (C-section). But U.S. hospitals have been recently criticized for overusing C-sections. A third of all U.S. deliveries are by C-section, and it’s estimated that almost half of C-sections performed in the U.S. are unnecessary, according to Consumer Reports.