What is a tailbone injury and how to treat it?
Tailbone discomfort can make routine activities painful at best and intolerable at worst. The tiny, triangular coccyx bone at the spinal column’s base is prone to bruising and even fracture. Walking reduces pain, whereas sitting increases it. The most significant changes can be seen when using at-home medicines and altering habits like spending too much time sitting down or standing up. Most coccyx injuries may be treated cautiously, even if they take longer to heal.
What is the tailbone?
The tailbone, or coccyx, is a little triangular bone found near the base of the spine, below the sacrum. It is located at the base of the vertebral column and comprises three to five tiny bones fused together. The tailbone is a crucial connection point for the ligaments and muscles that support the pelvic floor and protect the pelvis’ internal organs.
The coccyx also provides an attachment point for the gluteus maximus muscle, which is the largest muscle in the buttocks. While the coccyx is not essential for the body’s functioning, it can cause discomfort and pain if injured or inflamed.
A tailbone injury, also known as a coccyx injury, is damage or trauma to the coccyx, which is the small bone located at the bottom of the spine. This injury can result from a fall onto the buttocks, a hit to the tailbone, or long periods of hard surface sitting.
A variety of factors can cause tailbone injuries. It’s important to note that tailbone injuries can vary in severity, and some people may be more prone to such injuries due to factors such as weak muscles or a history of previous injuries. Here are some common causes of tailbone injuries:
Falls: Falling on the buttocks or landing on the tailbone during a fall can cause an injury.
Childbirth: Women can experience tailbone injuries during childbirth due to the pressure of the baby’s head pushing against the coccyx.
Sports: Contact sports such as football or hockey can result in injuries due to collisions or falls.
Prolonged sitting: Long-term pressure on the coccyx from sitting on hard surfaces might result in pain or injury.
Repetitive motion: Certain activities, such as cycling or rowing, that involve repetitive motion can cause tailbone injuries.
Medical conditions: Medical conditions such as tumors or infections in the pelvic area can cause tailbone pain and injury.
Some tailbone injuries may not cause immediate pain or symptoms but can develop over time due to repeated pressure or trauma to the coccyx. Symptoms of a tailbone injury can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Here are some common symptoms:
- Pain and tenderness in the tailbone area, especially when standing or sitting for extended periods.
- Bruising or swelling around the tailbone area.
- Difficulty or pain when moving the hips or lower back.
- Pain during bowel movements.
- Numbness or tingling in the legs or buttocks.
- In some cases, a visible deformity or dislocation of the coccyx.
It’s crucial to consult a doctor for a correct diagnosis and course of treatment if you think you might have a tailbone injury or are exhibiting any of these symptoms.
A coccyx injury can be diagnosed through a physical examination and diagnostic tests. Some common methods for diagnosing tailbone injuries are:
Physical examination: A doctor will typically perform a physical examination of the tailbone area to check for pain, tenderness, swelling, and deformity. They may also enquire about the history of the injury and any associated symptoms.
Imaging tests: If a tailbone injury is suspected, the specialist may request imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scans to get a detailed view of the coccyx and surrounding tissues.
Injection test: In some cases, a diagnostic injection of anesthetic medication may temporarily numb the area around the coccyx. If the injection relieves the discomfort, it can support the conclusion that a tailbone injury has occurred.
In case you suspect an injury, it is critical to get checked out by a doctor because several illnesses, such as tumors or infections, might present symptoms similar to those of a tailbone injury. A proper diagnosis is vital to determine the best course of treatment for your particular ailment.
The treatment for a coccyx injury depends on the severity of the injury. Some typical methods for treating tailbone injuries are:
Rest: Resting and avoiding activities that pressure the tailbone is essential. This can help reduce pain and allow the injury to heal.
Ice and heat therapy: Applying ice packs or heat therapy to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation.
Pain medication: Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are two over-the-counter painkillers that can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
Physical therapy: The muscles that surround the tailbone can be strengthened using physical therapy exercises, which can also increase flexibility and range of motion.
Cushions or pillows: Using a cushion or pillow with a cut-out or donut shape can help reduce pressure on the tailbone while sitting.
Surgery: In rare cases where the injury is severe or there is a dislocation, surgery may be necessary to realign or remove the affected bone.
Before beginning any treatment, speaking with a doctor is essential because not all tailbone injuries will respond to the same treatments. With the right care and therapy, most people can heal from an injury within a few weeks to several months.
Why choose 7DMC?
Our medical professionals are trained to assess musculoskeletal pain and injuries using orthopedic examination and treat the condition with the best possible techniques like hands-on procedures, joint mobilizations, rehabilitation, etc. Our goal is always to address the root of the problem rather than merely the symptom in order to sustain outcomes and prevent a recurrence.
Although unpleasant, tailbone discomfort is transient. You need to be cautious. Spend more time standing up and keeping your feet moving, take your prescriptions as directed, use your ice packs, take hot baths, and take your prescribed medications. Consult your doctor before the coccydynia becomes unbearable.