Treatments & Care at NCH

Health Library

     
Print-Friendly
Bookmarks

Tailbone trauma

Coccyx injury

Tailbone trauma is an injury to the small bone at the lower tip of the spine.

Considerations

Actual fractures of the tailbone (coccyx) are not common. Tailbone trauma usually involves bruising of the bone or pulling of the ligaments.

Causes

Backward falls onto a hard surface, such as a slippery floor or ice, are the most common cause of this injury.

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Bruising on the lower part of the spine
  • Pain when sitting or putting pressure on the tailbone

First Aid

For tailbone trauma when no spinal cord injury is suspected:

  • Relieve pressure on the tailbone by sitting on an inflatable rubber ring or cushions.
  • Take acetaminophen for pain.
  • Take a stool softener to avoid constipation.

If you suspect injury to the neck or spine, DO NOT attempt to move the person.

Do Not

DO NOT attempt to move the person if you think there may be injury to the spinal cord.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call 911 or the local emergency number for immediate medical help if:

  • Spinal cord injury is suspected
  • The person can't move
  • Pain is severe

Prevention

Keys to preventing tailbone trauma include:

  • DO NOT run on slippery surfaces, such as around a swimming pool.
  • Dress in shoes with good tread or slip-resistant soles, especially in snow or on ice.

References

Bond MC, Abraham MK. Pelvic injuries. In: Walls RM ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 46.

Vora A, Chan S. Coccydynia. In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 99.

BACK TO TOP

    • Tailbone (coccyx)

      Tailbone (coccyx)

      illustration

      • Tailbone (coccyx)

        Tailbone (coccyx)

        illustration

      Self Care

       
       

      Review Date: 1/29/2022

      Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

      The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
      © 1997- adam.comAll rights reserved.

       
       
       

       

       

      A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.