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Tailbone Injury

Intro

If a patient has the signs and symptoms of a coccyx injury or unexplained discomfort in the coccyx area, contact the doctor. It may be necessary for the doctor to decide if the injury is traumatic or if the pain is caused by other, more serious problems.

Injuries to the region of the coccyx rarely require a visit to the emergency department. However, if the patient is unable to reach his or her physician, have no physician, or are otherwise concerned about his or her symptoms, it is wise to visit your nearest hospital's emergency department.

  
Self-Care at Home

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 (Advil), 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.
  • Eat foods high in fiber to soften stools and avoid constipation.

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Follow-up

Follow-up is recommended at the discretion of the patient's doctor and depends on the severity of the injury and the progress the patient is making with medical treatment.

  • Most people do not require follow-up if their coccyx injury is improving with medical treatment.
  • People with chronic coccyx pain, for whom medical therapy has not worked, require more frequent follow-up evaluations and may be referred to other medical or surgical specialists.
Prevention

Most coccyx injuries are accidental (such as a slip on ice) and therefore cannot be entirely avoided.

Wear proper protective padding when participating in contact sports that can potentially lead to coccyx injuries.

Outlook

The prognosis for coccyx discomfort depends on many factors:

  • The original cause of the problem (whether from trauma, tumor, or infection)
  • If traumatic, the severity of the injury (a bruise, fracture, or dislocation)
  • The patient's ability to comply with medical treatment
  • The patient's natural ability to recuperate and heal

The majority of cases of traumatic coccyx injury get better within several weeks of the injury with proper medical treatment.

A few people suffer from chronic coccyx discomfort despite proper medical treatment. This can be an extremely frustrating and debilitating problem.

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