Colonoscopy Causing Tailbone Pain (Coccyx Pain)

Colonoscopy is a medical procedure where a flexible tube is inserted into the anus and colon.

  • A camera on the front tip of the tubing allows the doctor to see the inside of your colon, within the large intestines.

Colonoscopy is generally considered to be a safe way of detecting abnormalities such as colon cancers.

However, any time that a medical instrument is inserted into a human body there is a risk of causing injury to the patient.

In 2008, I published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation a case report of tailbone pain due to colonoscopy:
  •  A woman underwent colonoscopy.
  • After the colonoscopy, when she awoke from sedation, she reported the new-onset of severe tailbone pain (coccyx pain, also called coccydynia or coccygodynia).
  • The coccydynia was felt to be have been caused by the colonoscopy, based on the positive imaging studies, the timing of the symptom onset, the lack of previous symptoms or injuries at that site, and the close proximity of the injured coccyx to the anal and rectal regions traversed by colonoscopy.
  • This was the first case ever documented in the medical literature where colonoscopy caused a patient to have tailbone pain.
  • (Reference: AJPMR 2008 Mar; 87 (3): S36)
  • Since then, I have seen and learned of a number of other patients whose tailbone pain either started after colonoscopy or whose tailbone pain was worsened by colonoscopy.
  • Conclusion: colonoscopy can now be added to the list of traumatic causes for tailbone pain.

It is not surprising that colonoscopy could cause tailbone pain.

  • The tailbone is very very close to the colon.
  • Pressure from the colonoscopy could push on the tailbone, especially if the tailbone anatomy is abnormal.
  • Probably the patients at highest risk for this are those whose tailbone is flexed too far forward, bringing it even closer to the colon.


Please share your comments or questions below regarding colonoscopy and tailbone pain…

Patrick Foye, M.D.

Founder and Director at The Tailbone Pain Center
Patrick Foye, M.D.
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2 comments to Colonoscopy Causing Tailbone Pain (Coccyx Pain)

  • josephine mcdermott

    I am just wondering after having a laprascopically hysterectomy for fibroid low lying on cervix anterior coccyx pain seem to get worse as coccyx seemed to get more mobile can this be the case. or has anyone heard of it happening.

    • In general, colonoscopy would be expected to be far more likely to cause tailbone pain (coccyx pain) as compared to hysterectomy, since the hysterectomy/uterus is typically located farther forward within the pelvis.

      In admittedly over-simplified terms, the urinary bladder is in the front of the pelvis, the uterus is in the middle of the pelvis, the colon/rectum and coccyx are the back of the pelvis.

      Having said that, I have seen some patients where the fibroid uterus is so large and is angling abruptly backwards (retroverted uterus) that I believe it may cause some pressure on to the front (anterior) region of the coccyx. This might especially be true if the tailbone/coccyx is angling abruptly forward while the uterus is angling abruptly backwards.

      You should review your tailbone imaging studies (x-ray or MRI) with your treating physician to see if these factors figuring in your specific case.

      Wishing you all the best.

      -Patrick Foye, M.D.

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