Simple solutions such as a warm bath or heating pad may help to relieve pain and inflammation from a coccyx fracture.
The coccyx is the last bone at the end of the spine. Sometimes referred to as the "tailbone," the coccyx is actually 4 small bones that are fused together. A coccyx fracture is a partial or complete break in this area.
Coccyx fractures usually result from a backwards fall or a strong blow to the tailbone. The coccyx has some flexibility to absorb shock, but excessive stress on the bone can lead to a crack or break.
Symptoms will include pain, swelling and possibly visible bruising. Sitting and walking may be very uncomfortable. Bowel movements may be painful.
You will need to consult with a doctor for a diagnosis. The doctor will discuss your symptoms with you and the history of the injury. A physical examination of your lower back and coccyx will be completed, and X-rays will be needed to identify the break and plan for treatment.
Conservative treatment for a coccyx fracture is aimed at relieving symptoms while the bone heals. Your doctor may recommend several ways to alleviate inflammation and pain, including:
- Positioning. When sitting, lean forward to distribute more of your weight over your legs. Try a doughnut-shaped cushion or child's inner tube in the seat of your chair. When lying on your back, place pillows under your legs. When lying on your side in bed, a pillow can be placed between the legs for comfort. Each of these measures should decrease pressure on the coccyx.
- Ice. For the first few days, an ice pack wrapped in a towel can be placed on the region to reduce swelling. This should be done 3 to 4 times a day for 15 to 20 minutes at a time until the swelling subsides.
- Heat. A warm bath, heating pad, electric blanket or other heat source may help ease pain.
- Medications. Your doctor my recommend anti-inflammatories and/or steroid injections to help reduce pain, as well as stool softeners for constipation.
- Physical and occupational therapy. Your doctor may suggest rehabilitation therapy and/or specialized treatments to may help in the healing process.
Surgical treatment is not likely to be necessary, but your doctor will discuss this option to help you make an informed decision. As with all surgeries, there are certain risks associated with the procedure.
Generally, coccyx fractures need approximately 4 to 8 weeks to heal. Surgical intervention will require more time for the area to mend. Your recovery will depend on your age, overall health, extent of your injury and how well you follow your doctor's instructions.