Tailbone Injury

ExitCare ImageThe tailbone (coccyx) is the small bone at the lower end of the spine. A tailbone injury may involve stretched ligaments, bruising, or a broken bone (fracture). Women are more vulnerable to this injury due to having a wider pelvis.

CAUSES

This type of injury typically occurs from falling and landing on the tailbone. Repeated strain or friction from actions such as rowing and bicycling may also injure the area. The tailbone can be injured during childbirth. Infections or tumors may also press on the tailbone and cause pain. Sometimes, the cause of injury is unknown.

SYMPTOMS

  • Bruising.

  • Pain when sitting.

  • Painful bowel movements.

  • In women, pain during intercourse.

DIAGNOSIS

Your caregiver can diagnose a tailbone injury based on your symptoms and a physical exam. X-rays may be taken if a fracture is suspected. Your caregiver may also use an MRI scan imaging test to evaluate your symptoms.

TREATMENT

Your caregiver may prescribe medicines to help relieve your pain. Most tailbone injuries heal on their own in 4 to 6 weeks. However, if the injury is caused by an infection or tumor, the recovery period may vary.

PREVENTION

Wear appropriate padding and sports gear when bicycling and rowing. This can help prevent an injury from repeated strain or friction.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Put ice on the injured area.

  • Put ice in a plastic bag.

  • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.

  • Leave the ice on for 15-20 minutes, every hour while awake for the first 1 to 2 days.

  • Sit on a large, rubber or inflated ring or cushion to ease your pain. Lean forward when sitting to help decrease discomfort.

  • Avoid sitting for long periods of time.

  • Increase your activity as the pain allows.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

  • You may use stool softeners if it is painful to have a bowel movement, or as directed by your caregiver.

  • Eat a diet with plenty of fiber to help prevent constipation.

  • Keep all follow-up appointments as directed by your caregiver.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Your pain becomes worse.

  • Your bowel movements cause a great deal of discomfort.

  • You are unable to have a bowel movement.

  • You have a fever.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.