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Tailbone Injuries

What is a tailbone injury?

Your tailbone (coccyx) is actually made up of several bones that are located at the end of your lower back. Tailbones can be bruised or broken.

How does it occur?

A tailbone injury usually occurs from a direct fall onto the coccyx.

What are the symptoms?

Your tailbone is very tender. You have pain when you are sitting. You may also have pain when you walk and when you have a bowel movement.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will review your symptoms and examine your back and tailbone. He or she may order an X-ray to see if your tailbone is broken.

How is it treated?

An injured tailbone needs time to heal. A bruised tailbone may take several days to several weeks to completely heal. A fractured tailbone takes 4 to 6 weeks to heal. In either case, people sometimes have pain for a long time.

  • Use a doughnut cushion when you are sitting. A doughnut cushion may be purchased at a medical supply store or you may use a child's swimming inner tube. You can also cut a hole in a foam pillow.
  • Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables, wrapped in a cloth on the area every 3 to 4 hours, for up to 20 minutes at a time.
  • Take an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen, or other medicine as directed by your provider. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, do not take for more than 10 days.

It is important to avoid constipation while your tailbone is healing. Drink plenty of fluids and increase the amount of fiber in your diet.

When can I return to my normal activities?

You can return to your normal activities when your pain has improved and you are able to sit, bend, and walk without a lot of pain.

How can I prevent tailbone injuries?

Most tailbone injuries are caused by accidents that cannot be prevented. In some contact sports such as football or hockey, it is important to wear protective equipment.

Written by Pierre Rouzier, MD, for RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-07-27
Last reviewed: 2010-06-21
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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