What is Coccyx ?
The coccyx originates from a Greek word that when translated into English would mean cuckoo. This is actually likened to that of the cuckoo’s curved beak especially on a side view. The coccyx is otherwise known as the tailbone and this is anatomically located at the end portion of the vertebral column, inferior to the sacrum to be exact. The coccyx comprises around 3 to 5 fused or detached coccygeal vertebrae. This is being joined to the sacrum through the sacrococcygeal symphysis. This is a type of fibrocartilaginous material which allows limited range of motion of the sacrococcygeal joint.
Without you paying much attention to it, the coccyx is actually a very important part of the body. The theory of evolution believes that the coccyx is actually the relic of the tail that earlier human forms used to have. All humans and primate forms do have the coccyx. One cannot just be nonchalant about the coccyx because this maintains specific functions in the body. In fact, the coccyx is the location of some attachments of muscles, tendons and ligaments. Having your coccyx removed would bring about certain changes in the way you function or move. One important function of the coccyx is that it is the structure that supports especially when an individual assumes a sitting position. The ischial tuberosities and its other parts serve as a support structure when a person is sitting and happens to lean forward. However, the coccyx assumes much of the weight when a person sits and leans backward. So, you can just imagine sitting without your coccyx supporting at the very base of the vertebral column. The different portions of the coccyx actually assume different functions. For instance, the anterior part is entirely responsible for the functions of the pelvic floor such as micturition and defecation because the coccygeus, iliococcygeus and pubococcygeus muscles are attached herein. On the other hand, the posterior part of the coccyx serves as the support structure of the anus and it’s also where the gluteal muscles attach into. Aside from these essential functions of the coccyx, this is also where we can find the attachments of ligaments such as the anterior and posterior ligaments. Their ends are located at the sacrococcygeal ligaments. The coccyx also serves as an extension to the pia mater.
Since the coccyx is the location of several attaching ligaments, this appears to be slightly concave out in the front with transverse grooves which makes it ideal for the attachment of the sacrococcygeal ligament. Portion of the anterior coccyx also provide some support to the rectum. Just like the anterior side, the posterior aspect of the coccyx also has some transverse grooves.
The coccyx is also vulnerable to certain types of injuries. Often, a bruised tailbone or coccyx develops. When pain is felt at some point on the coccyx, this is referred to as coccydynia. Sports, car accidents, falls and other mishaps have a huge tendency of injuring the coccyx. Other than that, tumors may also grow within the coccyx itself. The most common type of tumor that can be found over the coccyx is called sacrococcygeal teratoma. Coccydynia without serious pathology may be managed through conventional pain medications. However, more severe ones would often require surgery so as to correct the existing condition. The commonly performed surgical procedure involving the coccyx is coccygectomy or the removal of the coccyx. Often, before allowing the patient to undergo this type of surgery, the doctor has to carefully do some assessment first owing to the fact that the important functions of the coccyx will be lost following the surgery. This is also considered to be a critical procedure and must be done with utmost dexterity. The good thing is that, problems involving the coccyx are oftentimes dealt with effectively even without resorting to surgery.
Image Credit : pennstatehershey.adam.com