(Tailbone Fracture; Broken Tailbone)

Definition

A coccyx fracture is a break in the tailbone. This is the lowest part of the spine.

The Coccyx
Nuclus factsheet image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

This injury is caused by trauma from:

  • Falls
  • A blow to the tailbone
  • The childbirth process

It can also happen when straining or friction, such as when rowing or biking.

Risk Factors

Things that may raise your risk are:

  • Having a health problem that may result in falls, such as weak muscles
  • Having a health problem that may weaken bones, such asosteoporosis
  • Playing contact sports, such as hockey

Symptoms

Symptoms may be:

  • Pain that is worse when sitting
  • Pain that is worse during a bowel movement

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. The doctor will also ask how the injury happened. A physical exam will be done, focusing on your spine. A rectal exam may also be done. X-rays may or may not be needed.

Treatment

The fracture will need time to heal on its own. This can take eight to twelve weeks. Medicine can help ease pain and swelling.

Surgery

Surgery for this injury is rare. It may be done to remove the coccyx when all other options have been tried.

Prevention

Most fractures are due to accidents. Healthy bones and muscles may prevent injury. This may be done through diet and exercise.

RESOURCES

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine  http://www.sportsmed.org 

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons  http://www.orthoinfo.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

The Canadian Orthopaedic Association  http://www.coa-aco.org 

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation  http://www.canorth.org 

References

Acute low back pain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:  https://www.dynamed.com/condition/acute-low-back-pain  . Updated November 12, 2018. Accessed September 24, 2019.

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 24, 2019.

Qaseem A, Wilt TJ, et al. Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2017 Apr 4;166(7):514-530.

Spinal cord injury—acute management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:  https://www.dynamed.com/condition/spinal-cord-injury-acute-management  . Updated September 24, 2019.

Types of fractured coccyx. Cure Back Pain website. Available at: http://www.cure-back-pain.org/fractured-coccyx.html. Accessed September 24, 2019.

Revision Information