Posted tagged ‘coccyx’

A Pain in the Butt

February 23, 2009

[originally published in KCN, April 1998]

pain-in-the-buttNo, I’m not referring to your spouse, your parent, your unruly child, or anyone else that comes to your mind.  What I’m really referring to is taxes!… Seriously, what I am talking about is a condition known as coccygodynia — simply put in layman’s terms:  tailbone pain.   We doctors refer to the tailbone as the coccyx.  This name originates from the Greek word meaning “cuckoo” because of its resemblance to the bird’s bill.  The coccyx is formed by 3 to 5 fused caudal (tail) vertebrae at the very end of the spinal column and forms a joint with the triangular sacrum bone above.  While most other animal tails are considerably longer than humans (the cat has about 20 caudal vertebrae) and have obvious functions such as offering locomotion (whale), maintaining balance (kangaroo), or expressing emotion (dog) — the human “tail” is nothing but a small cuckoo bill that serves only for the attachment of certain nearby muscles and ligaments.


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