Tailbone (Coccyx) Injury
Exams and Tests
The cause of a coccyx injury is largely determined based on a medical history and a physical exam. Occasionally, X-rays are taken.
- The entire vertebral column (spine) may be examined. A neurologic exam may be performed. A rectal exam may also be performed. For this exam, the doctor inserts a finger into your rectum to feel the area of the coccyx and determine if there is a dislocation or a fracture that can be felt and if direct pressure against the coccyx reproduces your pain.
- Rarely, if the cause of discomfort is unknown, a local anesthetic may be injected into the tailbone area to determine whether the origin of the pain is from the coccyx or another part of the vertebral column.
- X-rays may be taken to determine whether there is a fracture or dislocation. However, X-rays occasionally may not reveal these injuries. Some doctors recommend X-rays in both the standing and seated positions to better determine the presence of a fracture or dislocation.
Tailbone Injury Treatment
Tailbone injuries are often extremely painful, so home remedies aim to control pain and avoid further irritation to the area.
- Avoid sitting down for long periods of time. When seated, avoid sitting 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.
- Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce pain and improve your ability to move around. Do not take NSAIDS if you have kidney disease, a history of gastrointestinal bleeding, or are also taking a blood thinner -- such as Coumadin -- without first talking with your doctor. In that case, it is safer to take acetaminophen, which helps lessen pain but does not reduce inflammation.
- You can purchase a "doughnut" cushion or pillow to sit on. This cushion has a hole in the middle to prevent the tailbone from contacting the flat surface.
- Eat foods high in fiber to soften stools and avoid constipation.