Q: I fell on my bottom and was told that I broke my coccyx. What is the coccyx and what can I do for it?
The coccyx, or tailbone, is the triangular bony structure located at the bottom of the spinal column. It is composed of three to five bony segments held in place by joints and ligaments.
A coccyx or tailbone injury results in pain and discomfort in the tailbone area (the condition is called coccydynia). These injuries may result in a bruise, dislocation, or break (fracture) of the coccyx. Although they may be slow to heal, the majority of coccyx injuries can be managed with conservative treatment.
The majority of coccyx injuries occur in women because the female pelvis is broader, and the coccyx is more exposed.
Coccyx injuries are often extremely painful, so home care is aimed at controlling pain and avoiding further irritation to the coccyx.
- Avoid sitting down for long periods of time. When seated, sit on hard surfaces and alternate sitting on each side of the buttocks. Also, lean forward and direct your weight away from the tailbone.
- For traumatic injuries, apply ice to the tailbone area for 15-20 minutes, four times a day, for the first few days after the injury.
- Use ibuprofen, or a similar pain medicine, as directed on the label, for pain control.
- You can purchase a "doughnut" cushion or pillow to sit on. This cushion has a hole in the middle of it to prevent the tailbone from contacting the flat surface.
If you experience unusual pain or bleeding, call your doctor immediately!