Acupuncture treats almost any kind of pain, but I rarely get a patient who comes to me specifically for the treatment of tailbone pain. And this is a very common ailment. Slips and falls can result in fractures and bruises of the tailbone. Sometimes the tailbone can be irritated or injured during pregnancy from the position of the fetus or during a difficult labor and delivery.
So why don’t people consider acupuncture for the treatment of tailbone pain? Is it because they are deathly afraid of where they think I will put the needles? Or is it because they have been silently suffering and told by their physicians that only time will heal?
Well, I want to address both of those concerns! Western medicine has very little to offer in the effective treatment of tailbone pain. If a person has actually broken the tailbone and caused a deformity of the bone that may be dangerous to the surrounding tissues, surgery may be recommended. But in most cases of slips and falls that fracture or bruise the tailbone, the advice is rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications. Occasionally cortisone injections locally around the tailbone may be helpful, but these can be quite painful and the person may need a series of injections to get relief.
In my study of Master Tung acupuncture points, there is one point that is extremely effective for the treatment of tailbone or coccygeal pain. And to immediately put your mind to rest, there is no disrobing involved! The name of the point is Xinmen, or Heartgate. It is located about an inch and a half distal to the elbow. It is located on a traditional acupuncture meridian, or energy pathway, known as the Small Intestine meridian. But like most Master Tung acupuncture points, it is not the same location as any traditional Small Intestine acupuncture point.
This point alone, usually just needled on one side of the body, will show a remarkable effect in the treatment of tailbone pain. Heartgate is usually needled on the left side for men and the right side for women.
It’s effectiveness is elegantly explained by basic concepts of Chinese medicine theory. Chinese medicine looks at the body holographically, meaning that one part of the body represents the whole body. So, if you superimpose the body on the arm, the location of this point corresponds to the sacral area. Another basic concept in Chinese medicine is that you treat points near a bone to more effectively treat bone problems. The Small Intestine meridian runs along the anterior border of the ulna bone and Heartgate is needled very close to the bone. And finally, the Small Intestine, or hand taiyang meridian is connected to the Bladder, or foot taiyang meridian. The Bladder meridian surrounds the entire length of the spine. This is why a point on the elbow can treat a problem of the tailbone!