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Tailbone (Coccyx) Fracture

Your coccyx (tailbone) is the bone at the very end of your spine. Most tailbone injuries are caused by a “seated” fall or direct blow. Often, the area around your tailbone is just bruised. But sometimes the bone itself may fracture (break). A tailbone fracture can be very painful and may take some time to heal.

Side view of lower body showing spine ending in tailbone.

Risk Factors

Women are more likely to injure their tailbones than men. That's because the bone is more exposed in women. In some cases, tailbones can fracture during childbirth.

When to Go to the Emergency Room (ER)

Tailbone injuries are likely to cause pain, swelling, and bruising. Sitting or having a bowel movement may be especially painful. Still, most tailbone fractures are not medical emergencies. Go to your health care provider for treatment. Seek emergency care if you have extreme pain, tingling, or weakness in one or both legs.

What to Expect in the ER

  • A doctor will examine your tailbone. This is done by gently inserting a gloved finger into your rectum.

  • X-rays may be taken to check the extent of the injury.

  • You may be given medication to ease discomfort.

Treatment

There is no way to hold a fractured tailbone in place. For that reason, treatment focuses on making you more comfortable while the injury heals. You may be told to ice your injury for a day or two to help relieve swelling and pain. During healing, a special pillow or cushion may be recommended to protect your tailbone while you sit. Surgery for a traumatic coccyx injury may be indicated if there is no response to the above treatments.

Online Medical Reviewer: Nelson, Gail A., MS, APRN, BC
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 7/17/2013
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