When a person has a bruised tailbone, it can cause severe pain and discomfort in that area while sitting or sleeping. The medical term for bruised tailbone is coccydynia. It can also take a long time to heal completely. Women, more than men, are affected by this medical condition because a woman’s pelvis is broader and makes their tailbone more susceptible to trauma or injury.
This is a small bony structured that is located at the end of your spine at the bottom of your vertebral column. Your vertebral column is a group of articulated bones called vertebrae and help act as the axis of your body in organisms called vertebrates. It is also known as your spine and is an important part of your anatomy. Your tailbone is also referred to as your coccyx. It is referred to as a tailbone because in animals it corresponds to an actual tail.
The tailbone consists of three to five bony parts called vertebrae. These vertebrae are sometimes fused together to create a segment, which is usually evident in the tailbones of adult humans. It remains in place within your body through ligaments and a joint. It forms the back of your pelvis and has a triangular shape. What size and shape your tailbone will be varies from one person to another. Because your tailbone lies close to the skin and is not protected by the dense layers of fat and muscle it is easy to suffer from a bruised tailbone.
Symptoms of a Bruised Tailbone
The most common symptom of a bruised tailbone is the pain in that area or in your lower back region, especially when you are trying to get up from a sitting position, just sitting or walking. The pain felt can be quite acute when you touch or apply pressure to the area, or while standing up or sitting. The more activities that put pressure on your tailbone like having sexual intercourse or a bowel movement can cause the pain to become worse. It your bruised tailbone is caused by a severe trauma or injury to your lower back area you may also notice some tenderness and swelling. At times, the pain may radiate from your lower back area to your legs.
Causes of Tailbone Injury
Basically any type of strain or injury on your tailbone can lead to bruising but the most common cause of a bruised tailbone is a repetitive strain injury to the pelvic area or a fall because of activities like horseback riding or biking. For women, being pregnant and giving birth are some important factors that can also cause this medical condition. Having a direct hit to the area can also cause a bruised tailbone.
Treatment for Bruised tailbone
In order to get the correct treatment your physician will evaluate your symptoms and do a physical exam. They may also take an MRI or x-rays to find out the extent of the dislocation, injury, or fracture. Normally the pain of a bruised tailbone can be managed by using ice and heat.
When managing the pain of a bruised tailbone you should first use the ice pack for fifteen to twenty minutes, and then apply the heating pad. You should do these treatments every three hours for the first few days if possible. Doing these treatments in this order will help to reduce any swelling and pain. If you can instead of just applying the ice pack and heating pad or heat pack you can gently massage the area with them. It will also help to speed up the process of recovering from the incident. It can take several weeks for your bruised tailbone to heal completely with the use of ice and heat along with proper rest. If you are experiencing severe pain your physician may give you a steroid injection or prescription pain medication.
Other treatments that can help with the pain can include:
- With a bruised tailbone you should try to limit or avoid any activities that put excess pressure on the area such as sitting for a long period of time.
- When sitting try to use pillows or donut cushions to sit on and try to lean forward instead of sitting straight up.
- If bowel movements are causing pain increase your intake of foods that are rich in fiber along with your intake of fluids. You could also take an over-the-counter stool softener but you should check with your physician before you do.
- Make sure that you are avoiding sleeping on a bed that is spongy filled and extremely soft because these types of mattresses seem to aggravate the pain so try to sleep on a hard surface.
- Taking warm baths can help
- Wear comfortable shoes and avoid wearing heels.
- To help with the pain you can take over-the-counter pain relief medications.
- When sleeping try lying on your side instead of your back to help relieve the pressure on your tailbone
- If possible you should take complete bed rest for the first two to three days after you bruised your tailbone.
- Increase your intake of foods that are rich in vitamin D and calcium as these can help you have a speedier recovery along with strengthening your bones.
While you are recovering from your bruised tailbone you physician may have you try physical therapy after a few days of healing. One type of exercise that the physical therapist might have you do is lie on the floor on your back and keep one leg straight out while you lift the other leg and stretch it gently and slowing across the length of your body. Depending on the pain the physical therapist may have you do these two or three times before switching to the other leg to do the same thing. As your bruised tailbone heals the number of repetitions for this exercise can be increased. You can also take slow gentle walks but avoid any exercise that puts a strain on your lower back such as swimming, running, or riding a bicycle.
While you are recovering from your bruised tailbone it is very important that you avoid straining your lower back area or your tailbone. In rare cases the pain could be caused by a tumor and if this is the case your tailbone may be surgically removed to resolve the problem. Removing your tailbone will not hinder your ability to walk, run, sit, etc.