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MRI Scanning Body Parts Coccyx
Body Parts Coccyx

MRI 101: A Guide to a Coccyx MRI Scan

Almost everyone knows the pain of falling on your tailbone. The tears may have dried away but the pain lasts for days. Unfortunately, pain doesn’t always go away. At some point, several days later you think–I should call my doctor.

This is a common narrative — when does pain become serious enough to seek medical attention?

The answer may be different for each individual. But what isn’t different is the need for an MRI to determine the severity of your tailbone pain. If you are experiencing coccyx pain and are curious about the MRI procedure to get to the bottom of it, continue reading. We will discuss the role of the coccyx, common injuries and how MRI can be used to form a diagnosis.

What is the Coccyx and its Function?

The coccyx is the bottom of your spine. It attaches to the flat triangular-shaped sacrum–which is nestled between the hip bones. The coccyx is comprised of 4 vertebrae that have fused together. The coccyx is connected to the sacrum via the sacrococcygeal joint.

The coccyx is known to be vestigial–or no longer necessary. However, research has shown the coccyx does play a role in weight-bearing while sitting. It also helps support the movement of your hips and serves as a connector for pelvic floor muscles.

Pain occurring in the coccyx is typically the result of an injury. However, discomfort can also begin sporadically.

Does Coccydynia Show on an MRI?

Pain in your tailbone is referred to as coccydynia. There are three common causes:

  1. Direct injury – such as falling
  2. Repetitive stress – such as biking
  3. Childbirth

An MRI cannot show coccydynia. But it does show inflammation around the coccyx which allows for a radiologist to make the diagnosis.

Coccyx pain does not always mean you have coccydynia. Other causes of tailbone pain can mimic the symptoms of coccydynia, including:

A physical examination is an important tool in the diagnosis of tailbone pain. However, an MRI will be able to rule out alternative causes of your coccydynia symptoms.

Is Pain in the Coccyx Serious?

According to experts, generally, coccyx pain is not serious. It is uncomfortable and will last a few days.

If the pain begins to worsen or lasts for longer than a week, you should contact your doctor. This could be a sign of a fracture or abnormal growth pressing against the coccyx. Your doctor may recommend having an MRI to identify the cause of your discomfort.

Does a Lumbar Spine MRI include the Coccyx?

A lumbar spine MRI focuses on the L1 - L5 vertebrae of the lumbar spine and the surrounding nerves, soft tissues and blood vessels. It is possible to see portions of the coccyx in a lumbar scan however it is not the main focus.

It is possible to have a lumbosacral MRI scan to include the coccyx. But a coccyx MRI will focus on the tailbone and the sacrum specifically.

The Bottom Line

Injuring your tailbone is a frustrating experience and the pain can last for days. If the discomfort doesn’t go away or gets worse, it may be time to see your doctor.

A coccyx MRI can identify any serious damage to your tailbone or show any abnormal growths. It’s important to find the root cause of your tailbone pain to have the appropriate treatment plan prescribed.

At National MRI Scan, you can avoid the NHS wait times and have an appointment scheduled in as little as 5 working days. If you would like to know more about a private MRI scan, contact us. Our team is here to answer any questions you may have.


References

  1. https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/spinal-disorders/coccydynia/coccydynia-tailbone-pain
  2. https://www.medicinenet.com/coccydynia/article.htm
  3. https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/spine-anatomy/anatomy-coccyx-tailbone
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2210261218305510
  5. https://www.americanhealthimaging.com/blog/mri-lumbar-spine-show/
  6. https://www.healthline.com/health/back-pain/tailbone-pain
  7. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tailbone-pain-coccydynia/treatment/

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