Could Tailbone Pain Be Colon Cancer-Related?

Cancer or a tumor in your rectum or colon can cause tailbone pain. If the pain arises from the coccyx (tailbone), this is termed true coccygodynia, and if it’s referred from visceral organs etc., this is termed pseudo coccygodynia.

Cancer develops in the human body when there is uncontrolled growth of cells. It’s characterized by abnormal cells growing out of control and eventually spreading to other tissues. Tailbone pain (coccydynia) can come in the form of a sharp pain or a dull ache at the bottom of your spine. Women are five times more likely to develop true coccydynia than men.

Injury from falls, sitting too long on a surface, or infection are some of the causes of tailbone pain. You may feel pain when you stand up, have sex, or bend to do something. The pain can vary from one person to another. Some people may experience a sharper stabbing sensation, while others may feel pain as a dull and throbbing ache that feels like a muscle spasm.

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What causes tailbone pain without injury?

Common causes of tailbone pain without injury include:

  • External direct trauma

  • Repetitive minor trauma

  • Injury during childbirth

  • Posterior coccyx bone spurs

  • Coccygeal instability (both hypo/hypermobility of the sacrococcygeal joint)

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Somatization

  • Infection

  • Metastatic cancer

  • Avascular necrosis

  • Some tumors/cysts

Tailbone pain can result from dislocation, bruising, or a broken bone caused by an injury or trauma. It could happen if you get hurt or fall backward while engaging in sports like gymnastics or skiing. 

Repetitive strain associated with rowing or cycling can result in tailbone pain. Engaging in these things always puts an ongoing strain on your ligaments, spine, and muscles. See a doctor immediately if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, especially numbness, tingling, weakness, or bowel or bladder problems.

Tailbone pain and cancer: what is the connection?

The tailbone is a triangular bone situated below the sacrum at the bottom of the spine. Several regional cancers, such as prostate, cervix, uterus, ovaries, or colon, can cause coccydynia, as they can cause referred pain.

Colon cancer

The lower part of your digestive organ comprises the rectum and colon. Colon cancer, more commonly referred to under the umbrella of colorectal cancer, is a type of cancer that starts in your large intestine. It’s a disease in which the cells in your colon grow out of control.

People with colon cancer may experience the following:

  • Pain in their tailbone and other symptoms such as rectal bleeding

  • Fatigue and change in bowel habits

  • Persistent abdominal pain, cramps, or ache

  • Unintentional weight loss

A report from the American Cancer Society shows that an estimated 1 in 25 women and 1 in 23 men will develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime.¹


Chordoma is a rare bone tumor of the spine. These are locally invasive and frequently recur. One of the places this condition often occurs is the tailbone. 

Chordoma is a rare cancerous tumor that accounts for about 1–4% of all malignant bone tumors.² It can develop on your tailbone (sacral tumor) in about half of the cases, where the spine meets the skull in about 35 percent of the cases (clival tumor), and in the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine in about 15 percent of the cases. 

The neurological effects of this condition vary widely depending on where the tumor is. As a result, these tumors present different signs and symptoms depending on the location.

Chordoma is often diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 60.³ It is more common in men than women.  Pediatric chordomas make up 5% of all chordoma diagnoses.⁴

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is common in men, and there are no early warning signs. Regular prostate cancer screening is recommended since you can have the disease for years without knowing. In extremely rare cases, the tailbone pain can be related to prostate cancer due to metastatic invasion of the coccyx or referred pain.

Symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • Pain or burning sensation when you urinate

  • Peeing often, mostly at night

  • Blood in the semen or urine

  • Erectile dysfunction

Other causes of tailbone pain

Several causes can be responsible for tailbone pain. These conditions may be unrelated to cancer, and such health issues include:

  • Physical injury due to bruise, dislocation, or trauma experienced from childbirth

  • Prolonged sitting on a narrow or hard surface

  • Loosening of ligaments around the coccyx during the last trimester of pregnancy

  • Infections

The most common form of tailbone pain is any physical injury to the coccyx or sustained around it.

Treatments to ease tailbone pain

Conservative treatment is successful in 90% of coccydynia cases (that is, non-cancer-related tailbone pain), and many cases resolve without medical treatment.⁵ Tailbone pain can be treated using these methods:


Use a donut or wedge-shaped pillow to help reduce the pressure that mounts on the tailbone for people who sit for a long time. And if you ever experience pain, try to apply heat or ice to the affected part based on your preference.


Over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs can help manage immediate pains. Some common medications may include ibuprofen to relieve pain and inflammation and acetaminophen to relieve pain.

However, injectable medications such as steroids can also help to reduce pain, especially in chronic cases.


If 3–6 months of conservative management fail, surgery is an option. The most common surgical technique involves removal of your coccyx.

When to see a doctor

Tailbone pain should typically resolve on its own. But an emergent evaluation may be needed if you experience signs and symptoms such as:

  • Extensive bruising

  • Tingling in surrounding regions like the rectum or internal organs

  • Numbness in the tailbone

  • changes in coordination or movement

Some people may experience tailbone pain without an associated physical injury. However, coccydynia has been reported to occur more than 20 years after a traumatic event. Thus, you should see your doctor if you experience the following:

  • Unspecified tailbone pain with no improvement after weeks

  • Severe pain that recurs

  • When home treatment fails to relieve the pain

  • Fever

Your doctor will assess your condition, look into your medical history, and carry out tests. 

The lowdown

Tailbone pain usually results from a physical injury to the coccyx or surrounding tissues. However, the pain can be related to some forms of cancer in rare cases. Changing behaviors and trying at-home remedies can help manage true tailbone pain.

Frequently asked questions

What kind of tumor causes tailbone pain?

Chordoma, a rare and cancerous tumor that can grow at the tailbone, spine, or base of the skull, can cause tailbone pain if it’s located in the coccyx. 

How do you tell if you have a tumor on your tailbone?

Tailbone pain extremely rarely can be a symptom of cancer. An MRI or X-ray can help determine if you have a tumor on your tailbone.

Can you have a tumor on your tailbone?

Chordoma can occur anywhere in the spine. It’s usually found near the sacral tumor (tailbone). 

Are all tailbone tumors cancerous?

Tailbone cancer is rare and accounts for only 3% of all bone tumors (though it should be noted that not all cancers are tumors).⁶ It could be bone cancer or another type that spreads into your bone. See a doctor if your aches don't improve, no matter the cause.

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