The tailbone or coccyx is a bony structure at the end of your backbone. It is an intricate structure of bones, ligaments, and joints. Injury may cause intense pain, discomfort, and restriction in mobility. A tailbone injury can result in a bruise, fracture, or even a dislocation. In this article we will present the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for a sore tailbone.
Tailbone Injury Causes
A fall: The most common cause of a bruised or injured tailbone is falling. When an individual falls directly onto their tailbone, it may bruise. The likelihood of a severe injury increases if you fall on a very hard surface, such as hardwood floors or concrete. An ice skating accident is a common cause of an injured tailbone.
A blow: A direct blow to the tailbone will result in a bruise. This commonly occurs in contact sports involving a ball that could hit your tailbone.
Childbirth: A fractured or bruised tailbone can even occur during childbirth. As the baby is being pushed out it can put a lot of pressure on the coccyx; the baby is essentially pushing it backwards. This pressure may result in a bruised tailbone if mild, or a fractured tailbone in more severe incidents.
Extended pressure: Constant pressure on the coccyx can result in a bruise or fracture. This pressure is normally the result of extended sitting, which is commonly experienced during rowing or cycling.
Bone spurs: A bone spur is an abnormal outgrowth of bone that can occur in the spine region. This condition is caused by the inflammation of ligaments that surround the vertebrates of the spine.
Compressed nerve: This occurs when the spinal nerves are pinched or irritated. For this to result in tailbone pain, the compressed nerve will be in the lower spine. This pain will commonly radiate down to the buttocks and legs.
Symptoms of Tailbone Injury
Pain and tenderness: This is the most common symptom of a tailbone injury. It will range in severity with the cause, causing a mild ache to a severe throbbing. This pain will be localized to the tailbone. The pain will be heightened when sitting for prolonged periods of time, which puts a lot of pressure on your injured tailbone. Coughing, sneezing and ascending stairs will also exacerbate this pain.
Bruising: If your sore tailbone is due to an injury, then a bruise may develop. The bruise will be at the base of your spine and will range in severity with the type of accident that caused it. It may be just a small bruise or could even cover a large area.
Bowel movement pain: The act of straining while going to the bathroom will be quite painful if you have injured your tailbone.
Painful sexual intercourse: This symptom will only be felt by women. Sex may be very painful due to the proximity of the pelvic bone and the tailbone.
Numbness: Temporary numbness to the tailbone may be felt for a while after the initial injury. This feeling will disappear within a short time period.
How to Relieve Tailbone Pain
We have listed a few things that you can do at home to relieve the pain.
Posture: When sitting, make sure that your back is in an upright position and is aligned with the back of your chair. You should also lean forward a little, as this will take some of the weight off of your injured tailbone. Your knees should be in line with your hips, feet firmly positioned on the ground, and your shoulders should be relaxed. You should also practice sitting on one buttock at a time, alternating periodically between them. Try to avoid situations that require sitting for extended periods of time.
Seating: You should purchase a doughnut or wedge shaped cushion. Use it when you have to sit down to ease the overall pain and discomfort.
Cold or warm: When the injury has just occurred you need to either apply a cold ice pack or a heated pad to the tailbone. This should be pressed onto the sore region for at least 20-30 minutes. Repeat this 3-4 times a day for the first few days after you have sustained an injury.
Pain medication: Over the counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or aspirin, can help relieve some of the pain and discomfort. Pain medication should be used as directed.
Medical treatment may be required for severe trauma to the tailbone. These include:
Medication: To ease your pain, the doctor may prescribe stronger pain medication. An injection of local anesthetic may also be administered directly into your tailbone for incidents of prolonged pain. In order to avoid straining during a bowel movement and causing additional pain, they may also prescribe stool softeners to prevent constipation.
Physical therapy: Physical therapy may be recommended to ease long term pain and discomfort. The physical therapist will supply you with beneficial pelvic exercises to strengthen your abdomen and pelvic floor muscles.
Surgery: In very rare cases, surgery may be required. This procedure is termed a coccygectomy, in which the coccyx is permanently removed. This treatment is normally a last resort.
Normal Recovery Time
The recovery time is dependent on the severity of the injury or cause. If the accident was severe, such as falling off a horse onto your tailbone, then recovery time could take months. If is was mild, such as falling onto your tailbone from a low height, then the recovery time will most likely only be a few weeks.
If your tailbone pain does not ease after a week or two, consult a doctor. This doctor. You might be recommended to an anesthesiologist, physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor, or orthopedic surgeon. Your doctor may require you to undergo an MRI, in order to determine if your tailbone is fractured.