About Tailbone Injuries
The tailbone, known by the medical community as the coccyx, is located at the end of the spinal column. The tailbone is well protected in the body and not easily prone to severe injury. Tailbone injuries usually result from a fall or impact during sports. A fall where the tailbone suffers a hard impact can cause bruising, dislocation, a fracture or a break. True tailbone breaks and dislocations are not common.
A doctor may diagnose a tailbone injury by simply asking the patients questions about the injury and about pain symptoms. Some doctors may take an X-ray to evaluate the extent of the injury. Another diagnostic method that doctors may use is manual examination, which is the least commonly used diagnostic method for an injured tailbone. In a manual examination, the doctor may insert a finger into the rectum in order to feel the tailbone and check for a dislocation.
How Tailbone Injuries Are Treated
Tailbone injuries are painful and can take a long time to heal. Except for extreme injuries, the treatment for an injured tailbone is for the patient to rest and allow the body to repair itself. Bruised tailbones can take a matter of days to heal. Broken tailbones can take four to six weeks to heal. If pain still exists after six weeks, a doctor might provide treatment to help with pain. Treatment can include ant-inflammatory medications, pain reliever medications, steroid injections or in extreme cases, surgery. In extreme cases, where the tailbone is dislocated or broken and will not heal, the tailbone can be removed in a surgical procedure. Patients can live normal lives without their tailbones. Sometimes patients experience ongoing pain even after the surgical removal of the tailbone. Surgery is normally used as a last resort and is not commonly needed. The majority of tailbone injuries heal on their own.
When suffering from a tailbone injury, it is important to rest and keep activity level low. An active lifestyle can irritate an injured tailbone and slow down the healing process.
A pillow can be placed on chairs to provide cushion to reduce tailbone pain when sitting down.
Avoiding constipation is important because straining during bowel movements can be very painful with an injured tailbone. To help prevent constipation, drink plenty of fluids and eat whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables.
A warm bath can help to temporarily reduce painful muscle spasms that are associated with tailbone injuries.
- Photo Credit This Public Domain Image of the Tailbone (Coccyx) Originally Appeared in the 20th U.S. Edition of Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body
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