(Tailbone Fracture; Broken Tailbone)
by Debra Wood, RN
A coccyx fracture is a broken tailbone. The coccyx is the lowest part of the backbone or spine. It is small and shaped like a triangle. The bone curves gently from the end of the spine into the pelvis.
Coccyx fracture is caused by trauma. Trauma may be caused by:
Fractures may may also occur during straining or friction, such as with rowing or bike riding.
Risk Factors TOP
Coccyx fractures are more common in women. Other risk factors that may increase your chance of a coccyx fracture include:
A coccyx fracture may cause:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. A physical exam will be done. The exam may include a rectal exam. If the coccyx is fractured, your doctor may feel abnormal movement of the coccyx. You will experience pain. X-rays may or may not be needed.
The goal is to manage pain until the bone can heal. The location of the coccyx and the number of muscles attached to it makes it difficult to prevent it from moving while it is healing. Generally, pain will go away on its own.
The area may remain painful for a long period of time, even after the fracture has healed. You may be advised to stay in bed for a day or two, or move only as comfort allows.
Medications may be given to help manage pain. These include:
You may also need stool softeners to help prevent constipation or pain during bowel movements.
In addition to medications, home care is important for your recovery.
Some pain medications may cause constipation. To help prevent this drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, and eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Sitting can be uncomfortable after a coccyx fracture. Some suggestions to help manage discomfort include:
Surgery for a painful coccyx fracture is rare and not very successful. If pain continues and causes disability, a coccygectomy might be recommended. During this procedure, the doctor removes the coccyx.
If you are diagnosed with a coccyx fracture, follow your doctor's instructions.
To help reduce your chance of a coccyx fracture, take these steps:
To help reduce falling hazards at work and home, take these steps:
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
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Fractured coccyx. Cure Back Pain website. Available at: http://www.cure-back-pain.org/fractured-coccyx.html . Updated June 21, 2013. Accessed September 16, 2013.
Low back pain. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00311 . Updated May 2009. Accessed September 16, 2013.
Spinal cord injury—acute management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated January 23, 2013. Accessed September16, 2013.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013