Tailbone trauma

Alternative names
Coccyx injury

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

Considerations

Actual fractures of the tailbone (coccyx) are infrequent. 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

     
  • Pain experienced with sitting or pressure on the tailbone  
  • Bruising on the lower portion of the spine

First Aid

For tailbone trauma where no spinal cord injury is suspected:

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

If you suspect injury to the neck or spine, do not attempt to move the patient.

Do Not

Do not attempt to move the patient if there you think there may be injury to the spinal cord.

Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if

     
  • Spinal cord injury is suspected.  
  • The patient cannot move.  
  • Pain is severe.

Prevention

     
  • 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.

 

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Janet G. Derge, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.