A coccyx fracture needs adequate recovery time.
Causes of Coccyx Fracture
One cause of tailbone pain (coccydynia) is a broken tailbone. A coccyx fracture can be a hairline fracture of the tailbone or worse. Some patients may have a bruised tailbone while others may have a broken tailbone or fractured vertebrae. Coccyx pain can be severe. It is actually rare to have a tailbone that is broken; bruising is more likely. Tailbone injuries could be caused by falling onto a hard surface, such as ice or a slippery floor. The symptoms include swelling and bruising at the base of the spine, numbness or pain while sitting, and pain in the lower back or top of the buttocks. Recovery time for just bruising is about 4 weeks, but a fracture could take twice as long. Surgery is very rare, but some patients may need steroid medications if symptoms do not improve.1 Other causes of tailbone injury are “a direct blow to the tailbone”, childbirth, “repetitive straining or friction against the coccyx” (due to rowing or cycling, for example), nerve root compression, bone spurs, infections, and tumors.2 Risk factors for a coccyx fracture include osteoporosis, being female, violence, advanced age, and lack of muscle mass.3
Treating Coccyx Injuries
Rest, ice, sitting on a gel donut, and pain medications are the first line treatments for coccyx injuries. One caution regarding ibuprofen and naproxen: they should not be used during the first day of the injury due to the risk of increased bleeding. Patients may also wish to use stool softeners and eat fiber, while drinking adequate fluids, as going to the bathroom may be painful. After the initial pain it is important to avoid sitting for too long and to sit on soft surfaces only. Light physical activity (walking) is also recommended. If the injury progresses to sudden tingling, numbness, swelling, or pain, if it isn’t healing, if there is leg weakness, or in cases of “prolonged constipation” or “problems controlling…bowels or bladder”, medical help should be sought.4 If a case is severe enough, hospitalization may be required, but self-care is much more common. A coccygectomy is a rarely performed “surgical removal of the coccyx”.5 Chiropractic treatment of a coccyx injury might become necessary, as the “muscles around the coccyx become stiff”. Nerves become compressed, at that point, leading to more pain. Spinal manipulation can be used to “release any nerve compression”. Massage may be employed to relax the muscles and increase blood flow to the area. Chiropractors can also recommend exercises and stretches for strengthening muscles and preventing straining and tearing of ligaments and tendons.6
Learn more about chiropractic treatment for coccyx pain.