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.
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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.
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:
You will be asked 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.
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.
To help reduce your chance of a coccyx fracture:
To help reduce falling hazards at work and home:
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
The Canadian Orthopaedic Association
When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Acute low back pain. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114958/Acute-low-back-pain. Updated August 12, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2016.
Fractured coccyx. Cure Back Pain website. Available at: http://www.cure-back-pain.org/fractured-coccyx.html. Accessed September 12, 2014.
Low back pain. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00311. Updated December 2013. Accessed September 12, 2014.
Spinal cord injury—acute management. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114275/Spinal-cord-injury-acute-management. Updated August 22, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2016.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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