Rarely can a problem such as hemorrhoids cause so many different symptoms. Everyone has heard that hemorrhoids can bleed, may protrude and can cause itching. But what about tailbone pain? Tailbone pain is that sharp or dull discomfort that you might feel during prolonged sitting, walking or even while sleeping. In fact, tailbone pain is one of the most common complaints heard in the offices of proctologists, also known as colon and rectal surgeons.
What is a Hemorrhoid?
First and foremost, hemorrhoids are normal and are with us from birth. They serve to cushion and protect the anal opening during bowel movements. Hemorrhoids, also known as plies, serve as cushions during bowel movements. It is only when the hemorrhoids enlarge that they may cause problems.
Hemorrhoids are collections of veins, arteries, nerves and connective tissue which are located inside, and sometimes outside of the anal canal. Blood flows into the hemorrhoidal area and nourishes the anal canal tissues as in every other part of our bodies. The blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to the tissues. The blood then returns to the heart via the veins, the hemorrhoidal veins. So far, all normal. Problems may begin when, through disease, or simply as a part of aging, the hemorrhoidal veins begin to dilate. Think of this as similar to varicose veins seen in our legs. These are nothing more than dilated veins. And here is where the trouble may begin.
Everyone knows that there can be many symptoms form swollen hemorrhoids, such as:
- Protrusion (also known as prolapse)
- Tailbone Pain
But how can these small, almost insignificant cause tailbone pain? How can minor little hemorrhoids cause major discomfort in an area seemingly remote from their location?
In order to prevent the untimely, accidental discharge of feces, liquid or gas, our bodies have special muscles called the levator muscles. The levator muscles work in concert with our anal sphincters to give us our normal control. The levators (as in elevator) both elevate the abdominal contents out of the pelvic cavity and contract around the rectum to hold in the rectal contents and aid in peristalsis. Peristalsis helps to push the colon and rectal contents forward.
The levator muscles are really a group of muscles. Each of them has an origin (a beginning attachment) and an insertion (an ending attachment). These attachments enable the muscles to contract because each end of the muscle is attached to a stationary bone. In the case of the levators, they begin in the front of our pelvic cavities and terminate in the back of the pelvis. One of the points of termination is the coccyx, or tailbone. The tail bone is that small bone that you might be able to feel from the outside, just above the anal opening.
Normally, with each contraction, the relatively stationary tailbone flexes slightly.
Oh The Pain!
However, when hemorrhoids become inflamed or enlarge, especially when they prolapse, they cause the levator muscles to pull even stronger, thus moving or wiggling the coccyx (tailbone) more than is normal. Bones are endowed with pain nerve fibers. These fibers cause us to feel pain when they are stretched. Hence, tailbone pain with hemorrhoids. The muscles pull on the tailbone. Anxiety or stress can cause the same problem because stress can cause spasm of susceptible muscles.
The pain may be acute and all of a sudden. Or it may be chronic and long lasting. Oftentimes, acute pain may wake us at night. The chronic pain may follow us throughout the day. Either way, pain is pain, and can be a major distraction.
The good news is that this tailbone pain is not related to cancer or any other life threatening problems. Of course any unexplained pain, especially unremitting pain, should be evaluated by your doctor to be sure that nothing else is causing the pain.
Los Angels Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates
The doctors at Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates are trained to diagnose and treat all forms of problems related to the colon, rectum and anus. They have many years of experience treating tailbone pain. An appointment and confidential consultation can be scheduled by calling (310)273-2310.