Tailbone trauma is any injury that occurs to the coccyx or tailbone, which is found at the base of the spine.
Usually, tailbone trauma occurs when a person falls backward onto the tailbone and lands on a hard surface. This happens more often to elderly people. It is also more likely to occur when walking on very slick surfaces, such as a wet or polished floor or ice.
Tailbone trauma may also be caused by a direct blow to the area or by strain during childbirth.
The factors that increase an individual's risk for tailbone trauma include the following:
Tailbone trauma can cause:
A severe injury may cause chronic pain and nerve damage. The individual may experience long-term difficulty with walking and bowel movements.
Tailbone trauma is usually diagnosed when a person reports a fall and the healthcare provider examines him or her. The provider may order an X-ray of the lower spine.
To prevent injury to the tailbone, a person should:
A person who is elderly or prone to falls should:
An exercise program to improve balance may be helpful to elderly individuals or those with inability to move about as easily as others\ \
Treatment of tailbone trauma may involve any or all of the following measures:
If the injury is severe, the healthcare provider may advise surgery to remove the damaged section of coccyx. If there is an open wound, the provider may prescribe oral antibiotics to avoid infection.
Pain medicines or antibiotics may cause stomach upset or an allergic reaction.
Unfortunately, a tailbone injury can take quite a while to heal. Some people do not completely recover for 6 to 8 weeks or even longer. While the injury is healing, it is essential to avoid taking other falls that would injure this area again and lengthen the recovery time. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.
Author:James Broomfield, MD
Editor:Ballenberg, Sally, BS
Reviewer:Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN