Definition

What is a tailbone injury?

A coccyx injury results in pain and discomfort in the tailbone area (the condition is called coccydynia). These injuries may result in a bruise, dislocation, or fracture (break) of the coccyx. Although they may be slow to heal, the majority of coccyx injuries can be managed with cautious treatment.

The coccyx is the triangular bony structure located at the bottom of the vertebral column. It is composed of three to five bony segments held in place by joints and ligaments.

How common is a tailbone injury?

The majority of coccyx injuries occur in women, because the female pelvis is broader and the coccyx is more exposed. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of a tailbone injury?

The common symptoms of a tailbone injury are:

  • Severe localized pain and tenderness may be felt in the tailbone area.
  • If the injury is traumatic, a bruise may be visible in this area.
  • The pain is generally worse when sitting for prolonged periods of time, or with direct pressure to the tailbone area.
  • Bowel movements and straining are often painful.
  • Some women may experience pain during sexual intercourse.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes a tailbone injury?

  • A car accident or a fall
  • Medical conditions, such as hip arthritis or obesity
  • Childbirth
  • A direct hit to your coccyx, such as during sports
  • Growths or an infection in the tissues near your coccyx

Risk factors

What increases my risk for a tailbone injury?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is a tailbone injury diagnosed?

The cause of a coccyx injury is largely determined based on a medical history and a physical exam. Occasionally, X-rays are taken.

The entire vertebral column (spine) may be examined. A neurologic exam may be performed. A rectal exam may also be performed. For this exam, the doctor inserts a finger into your rectum to feel the area of the coccyx and determine if there is a dislocation or a fracture that can be felt and if direct pressure against the coccyx reproduces your pain.

Rarely, if the cause of discomfort is unknown, a local anesthetic may be injected into the tailbone area to determine whether the origin of the pain is from the coccyx or another part of the vertebral column.

X-rays may be taken to determine whether there is a fracture or dislocation. However, X-rays occasionally may not reveal these injuries. Some doctors recommend X-rays in both the standing and seated positions to better determine the presence of a fracture or dislocation.

How is a tailbone injury treated?

Reduction may be needed if you have a dislocated coccyx. During a reduction, your healthcare provider moves your tailbone into the correct position through your rectum. You will be given medicine to decrease discomfort during this procedure.

Medicines:

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
  • NSAIDs decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine can be bought with or without a doctor’s order. This medicine can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow the directions on it before using this medicine.
  • A bowel movement softener makes it easier and less painful for you to have a bowel movement.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage a tailbone injury?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with a tailbone injury:

  • Avoid sitting down for long periods of time. When seated, avoid sitting on hard surfaces and alternate sitting on each side of the buttocks. Also, lean forward and direct your weight away from the tailbone.
  • For traumatic injuries, apply ice to the tailbone area for 15-20 minutes, four times a day, for the first few days after the injury.
  • Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce pain and improve your ability to move around. Do not take NSAIDS if you have kidney disease, a history of gastrointestinal bleeding, or are also taking a blood thinner — such as Coumadin — without first talking with your doctor. In that case, it is safer to take acetaminophen, which helps lessen pain but does not reduce inflammation.
  • You can purchase a “doughnut” cushion or pillow to sit on. This cushion has a hole in the middle to prevent the tailbone from contacting the flat surface.
  • Eat foods high in fiber to soften stools and avoid constipation.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: December 29, 2017 | Last Modified: December 29, 2017

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