- ABOUT US
- Injuries and Conditions
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- Injury Prevention
The coccyx, also known as the tailbone, is a small triangular bone structure, comprising of three to five small bones, called coccygeal vertebral bones. It is located at the base of your spinal column, and can cause pain if damaged or fractured. A coccyx injury generally occurs from either trauma when a person falls abruptly on their buttocks, or for women during childbirth. Often the pressure of the baby passing through the birth canal can bruise, damage or fracture the coccyx, although a fracture is not common. You’re more likely to injure your coccyx if your baby is very large or in an odd position, or if you have a narrow pelvis. Additionally, if you have previously suffered from a tailbone injury, you are at greater risk of injuring it again during childbirth.
Depending on how severe your injury, symptoms will vary. Tenderness will be felt in the area, along with moderate to severe pain when sitting. Additionally pain will be present when moving from sitting to standing position. For some people, bowel movements and sexual intercourse can be painful.
For the first few days following injury, it is recommended to apply an ice pack to the area several times a day to reduce swelling and pain. It is also recommended to take an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen to help reduce the swelling and pain. If the pain is still severe after a week or so, get in contact with your doctor who can prescribe you stronger pain medication, just make sure to tell them if you are breastfeeding.
Rest is hugely important for an injured coccyx and so avoid any unnecessary activities or prolonged sitting that may place pressure on the bone. When sitting, lean slightly forward so there is no direct pressure on the tailbone, and when sleeping try to lie on your side. Additionally some people find a doughnut cushion, which has a whole in the middle so your coccyx doesn’t directly touch a hard surface helps. Constipation can be painful if you have an injured coccyx so ensure you drink plenty of fluids, eat lots of fiber and use a stool softener if needed to avoid it.
The healing process for an injured coccyx varies depending on the severity of the damage. A bruised tailbone usually heels on its own with rest in a few weeks. A fracture usually takes longer, around 8-12 weeks to heel, however pain may last longer if you develop chronic tension in your pelvic floor muscles, which often happens. In this case, it is recommended you see a physiotherapist who can develop you a plan to include pelvic floor relaxation techniques, exercises and stretches that will help you regain muscle and movement. If you are experiencing any coccyx pain, we at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic can help you with an individualised course of treatment. Our clinic director Aileen Maguire specialises in women’s health issues so if you have any questions regarding coccyx pain post childbirth or wish to have an assessment, please get in contact with us here.