The tailbone or coccyx is the last segment of the spinal column. It consists of three to five vertebrae (separated or fused), which are located below the sacrum (a large, triangular bone at the base of the spine). In most humans, the tailbone or coccyx is situated deep inside, so that the bony structure is protected from any trauma or injury. However, some people, especially women, have a prominent tailbone, which is prone to injury. Any injury to the tailbone, like dislocation and fracture can result in severe pain and discomfort. This condition is called coccydynia, which is also known as coccygodynia, coccygeal pain or coccaglia.
What Causes a Broken Tailbone
Most of the tailbone injuries are caused by direct trauma to the area that houses the structure. It can be a dislocation or a broken tailbone, which causes severe pain and discomfort to the affected person. It has been observed that females are more prone to sustain tailbone injuries, as they have a broad pelvic area, with a prominent tailbone. Childbirth is another factor that makes the fairer sex vulnerable to tailbone injuries. Even newborns may develop the condition, during childbirth.
As mentioned above, the most common cause of a broken tailbone is direct injury to the lower back. It could be like a hard fall in seated position or a direct blow to the area. Regular bicycling or rowing may also cause tailbone injuries, due to the repetitive stress on the coccyx. In rare cases, bone spurs, compressed nerve roots, tumors or infections may also result in injuries to the tailbone. Apart from being female, advanced age is another risk factor, as far as tailbone injuries are concerned. Other factors are osteoporosis, congenital bone conditions and poor nutrition.
Broken Tailbone Signs
Complex and serious tailbone fractures are very rare, but minor hairline or simple fractures are not uncommon. While the former needs immediate medical attention, the latter can be remedied with relevant treatment. Before starting with broken tailbone treatment methods, let us take a look at some of the common broken tailbone symptoms. So, this condition is not that common and the chances of a broken tailbone are very low, unless and until you sustain a severe trauma to the tailbone. In most cases, falls and blows involving the lower back, result in a bruised tailbone, rather than a broken one. Pain is the common symptom for both conditions (broken and bruised tailbone).
You have to consult an expert doctor and undergo diagnostic procedures to identify the condition.
- A broken tailbone may cause severe pain and tenderness in the area where the tailbone is located. In case of any trauma, there can be bruises too.
- It becomes difficult for the person to sit for longer periods (especially on soft surfaces) or do any activity that imparts direct pressure to the tailbone.
- The pain may worsen during bowel movements, especially strained bowel movements. In case of women, sexual intercourse can also become painful.
- Broken tailbone symptoms may include occasional shooting pain in the legs, which may develop to painful feet, in the long run.
In case you notice any of the above said symptoms, you have to approach a doctor and undergo certain tests to confirm the condition. This is also applicable for those who have endured any trauma or injury to that area, in order to rule out the possibility of a broken tailbone.
How is it Treated
As mentioned earlier, fracture of the tailbone is not at all common. But, it is always better to rule out the possibility of such conditions, with diagnostic methods, like X-rays and MRI. In case of a broken tailbone, the doctor may prescribe intravenous and/or oral medication, that include pain killers, anti-inflammatory drugs and stool softeners. If the pain is persistent, corticosteroids may also be administered. The person may be advised to use special seat cushions, so as to avoid any sort of pressure on the coccyx. Bed rest for a day or two may be required. In most cases, the tailbone heals on its own. So, the main goal of broken tailbone treatment is pain relief, which is found to be gradual. Sometimes, the pain may linger on, even after the tailbone heals.
In rare cases, coccygectomy or surgical removal of the tailbone or coccyx, is also done. This is usually done in cancer patients or those who fail to respond to the conventional nonsurgical treatment methods. Pain can be very severe and may affect the daily activities of the person. It may take time for recovery, but it can heal fully with proper care and treatment. There is no fixed healing time, but, if you do not get any relief after 12 to 15 months of treatment, then, there are chances that symptoms are due to some other condition.
In case of any trauma to the tailbone, application of ice packs may help you relieve pain. You may also include more fiber-rich foods in your diet, in order to prevent constipation and the resultant strained bowel movements, which can worsen broken tailbone pain. The most important factor is right diagnosis, because pain in the lower back can be due to various other causes too.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.