A tailbone injury can make the simplest of activities seem impossible. Even sitting becomes painful when the tailbone has suffered an injury. However, there are methods to finding relief during this frustrating time.
What is the Tailbone?
The tailbone is a small, triangular-shaped bone located at the very bottom of your spinal column. The medical name for this bone is the coccyx, however, it's most commonly referred to as the tailbone.
Though it is small, the coccyx is a fully functioning component of the musculoskeletal system. It works in conjunction with the muscles, ligaments, and bones of the pelvis, which are in place to protect and support the pelvic organs. The tailbone also provides stable anchorage points for ligaments and muscles, supporting our ability to walk upright and carry ourselves.
Because of its large role in keeping us structurally upright, even a bruise to this small bone makes us feel extreme amounts of pain.
Causes of a Tailbone Injury
Surprisingly, a plethora of events can cause a tailbone injury. While even sitting on a hard surface for a long period of time can cause pain in the tailbone, the most common method of injury is direct impact to the bone. This tends to happen in cases of slips and falls, especially on staircases, when one loses balance and falls directly onto the bone itself as opposed to landing flat on the buttocks.
Further causes of tailbone injury can include:
- High impact sports, such as football
- Activities in which an athlete is at great risk of falling, such as gymnastics or figure skating
- Repetitive activities, such as cycling or rowing
- Women can fracture the coccyx during childbirth
Symptoms of a Tailbone Injury
Due to the majority of tailbone injuries occurring as a result of direct impact to the bone, individuals typically feel the effect of the injury at the time of the trauma. When the coccyx is injured, the muscles surrounding it will become stiff. Because of this, swelling can occur and the bone may begin to pull away from it's respective place in the spinal column, causing the nerves in the area to become compressed. Due to this, symptoms often experienced with a tailbone injury consist of:
- Inflammation and irritation
- Bruising around the spine
- Pain and tenderness in the lower back
- Numbness when sitting
- Difficulty adjusting from a standing position to a seated position
- Pain or strain during bowel movements
- Pain during intercourse
Treating a Tailbone Injury
When your tailbone suffers an injury, it is crucial to determine the level of damage. While you can simply bruise the tailbone, you can also fracture or dislocate it. Likewise, it is important to ensure that other vertebrae of the spinal column have not been injured during the trauma as well.
The first step to treating a tailbone injury is to visit your doctor to have it examined. Your doctor will most likely issue an X-ray to determine the presence of a fracture or dislocation. To achieve symptom relief, your doctor may advise you to complete the following:
- Avoid physical activity that causes pain, and rest.
- Ice the coccyx for 20 minutes every hour for the first 48 hours after injury, then two to three times a day while symptoms persist.
- Use a cushion or donut pillow to take pressure off the coccyx while seated, and avoid sitting on hard surfaces or sitting for extended periods of time.
- Sleep on your stomach.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen, to alleviate pain.
- Incorporate fiber and plenty of fluids into your diet to prevent constipation or painful bowel movements.
A bruised or sore tailbone can take 4 weeks to heal, whereas a fractured or broken tailbone can take from 8 to 12 weeks to fully heal. Be sure to adhere to your doctor's instruction during this time.
Chiropractic Treatment for an Injured Tailbone
A chiropractor can prove to be incredibly beneficial following a tailbone injury. This is because the coccyx is part of the spinal column, and therefore, it responds to trauma much like any other vertebra of the spine would. When out of alignment or damaged, it will cause irritation to the nerves and tissue that surround it, as well as tighten the muscles that are supporting it.
A chiropractor can correct the misalignment of the coccyx to provide relief. Likewise, they can utilize spinal manipulation to alleviate the pain felt from tight or sore muscles. At ChiroCare of Florida, we incorporate stretching routines, massage therapy, chiropractic adjustments, and machine-assisted treatments such as ultrasound therapy to alleviate pain and promote healing from an injured coccyx.
If you've suffered an injury to your tailbone, visit your closest ChiroCare of Florida office as soon as possible so that you can begin healing in no time.