How to Treat a Broken Tailbone in Los Angeles, CA

It only takes a second or two to fall and land on your lower back. Most of the time, the resulting sharp, intense pain in the affected area is a temporary inconvenience. However, if your tailbone, which is the bone at the very end of your spine, produces discomfort that lingers or becomes worse over time, it may be fractured. Here’s what you can do about it.

Find Out If Your Tailbone Is Actually Broken

Think of tailbone pain (coccydynia) as being similar to what you’d experience after stubbing your toe. The discomfort is intense and then becomes duller as the toe heals, which is similar to what normally happens when a tailbone is bruised but not broken.

Most of the time, it’s more likely you have a bruise and not a break since the tailbone is fairly strong and isn’t easy to fracture. However, if the resulting discomfort, which may be worse when sitting or making certain movements around the lower back and hips, persists, a doctor can determine if the tailbone is bruised or broken with the following methods:

  • An initial exam – A thorough physical exam is done to check for tenderness and swelling around the tailbone area
  • Dynamic X-ray imaging tests – Images are captured in a sitting and a standing position and are then compared
  • Intrarectal exam and manipulation – The tailbone is manipulated after being accessed through the rectum
  • CT or MRI scans – Static images of the tailbone are produced to identify any fractures

Limit Pressure on the Tailbone

If a tailbone is fractured, initial treatment usually involves conservative remedies. The most important thing is to limit direct pressure on the tailbone as the fracture heals. Donut pillows can help with such efforts, as can wedge-shaped and U or V-shaped pillows.

Also, avoid sitting on hard surfaces as much as possible. If you must sit at work, make more of an effort to stand as much as possible, or take periodic breaks to ease stress on your tailbone.

Watching your posture can also help. If you sit firmly on your bottom with your back straight, you’re less likely to be putting direct pressure on your tailbone. Non-surgical recommendations typically include:

  • Injections directly into the affected area to minimize discomfort as the fracture heals
  • Stool softeners to minimize hard bowel movements that put too much pressure on a fractured tailbone
  • Applying heat or ice to the affected area to reduce swelling and increase circulation to promote healing
  • Anti-inflammatory and pain medications

Consider Surgery If Conservative Treatments Aren’t Helping

Surgery is rarely necessary for a fractured tailbone. However, it may be an option if you’re not seeing any improvements after several weeks of conservative care. Additional image tests are usually done prior to surgery to determine if a fracture has worsened or if the tailbone has shifted out of its normal position. Surgery may involve:

  • Repositioning the fractured coccyx
  • Stabilizing the fracture so it’s more likely to heal
  • Removal of part of the tailbone (coccygectomy)

No human being can completely avoid falling. Still, you can be more cautious when walking on uneven or slippery surfaces. If you play sports, avoid direct impacts as much as possible to minimize hard falls. If you do fall and experience pain for longer than 48-72 hours, see your doctor or a Los Angeles spine surgeon.

Get in touch with The Spine Institute if you think you have a broken tailbone or another serious condition that may require minimally invasive spinal surgery. Los Angeles patients can call 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.