How to Distinguish between Sacral Tarlov Cyst Pain and Tailbone Pain

A few months ago I wrote about “Do Tarlov Cysts cause Pain?”

Today’s question is:

How to Distinguish between Sacral Tarlov Cyst Pain and Tailbone Pain

Usually it is not difficult to tell these conditions apart. Here’s how:

  1. Location: The location of a sacral Tarlov Cyst is more than a few inches ABOVE the location of the coccyx. An experienced physician should usually be able to tell the difference from a careful physical examination of the patient.
  2. Pressing on the tailbone: Coccyx pain can typically be reproduced by direct palpation (pressing) on to the coccyx, reproducing the patient’s typical symptoms. If the pain was coming from a sacral Tarlov cyst, then pressing on the coccyx would not reproduce the patient’s symptoms.
  3. Anesthetic injection at the tailbone: If a patient has a local anesthetic injection at the coccyx, and the initial anesthetic response gives relief of the patient’s symptoms for an hour or two (while the anesthetic is working), this would be consistent with the pain having been coming from the coccyx in the first place. (A local anesthetic at the coccyx would not be expected to in any way relieve pain/symptoms that were coming from a sacral Tarlov cyst.)
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Tarlov Cyst info, Coccyx Pain, Tailbone Pain, Coccydynia, Patrick Foye MD
Tarlov Cyst info, Coccyx Pain, Tailbone Pain, Coccydynia, Patrick Foye MD
Patrick Foye, M.D.
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1 comment to How to Tell Tarlov Cyst Pain from Tailbone Pain (Coccyx Pain)

  • Jacqueline Schneider

    I agree 100%. I started having sacral pain in 2013. I knew right away that it was the 3 tarlov cysts at S2.

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