Facts About Broken Coccyx
Lower back pain can often be attributed to a broken coccyx, or tailbone. It can be injured quite easily following a sudden, heavy fall with the individual landing squarely on their buttocks; a situation that is common when participating in sports or a physical activity. While little can be done to treat the broken bone itself, the resulting pain can be managed in a way for the individual to be comfortable.
The coccyx is a small triangular shaped bone located at the very end of the spine; curving slightly inward toward the pelvis. Rather than just one solid piece of bone, it is actually comprised of 4 separate vertebrae that are fused together. There is not a defined purpose for the tailbone in humans; some believe it is a remnant from days long past when humans sported tails. In Webster’s Medical Dictionary, the bone is even described as being “tail-like”. The tailbone is not without its talents, however. With the aid of the connective levatores aid and the coccygeus muscles, the coccyx provides support to the pelvic floor and the rectum, assists the opening of the birth canal during childbirth and offers support during normal elimination of bodily wastes. These facts defy the popular misconception that the coccyx is a prehistoric remnant that has no purpose.
Most of the time people function on a day to day basis, blissfully unaware that the coccyx even exists. It isn’t until a fall occurs that finds an individual in pain when walking, sitting or using the bathroom. A sharp blow to this small bone can result in bruising, dislocating or even a broken coccyx. Certain people are more susceptible to injuring the tailbone:
- Women. Females have a broader pelvis that is amenable to childbearing, but leaves the coccyx more vulnerable to injury.
- Aged. The older generation is more likely to fall, and therefore to injuring the tailbone.
- Non exercisers. Less muscle mass leads to a decrease in balance, which lead to falls.
- Athletes. Skating, hockey, basketball and other highly mobile sports activities are more prone for incidents of falling.
- Medical Conditions. Osteoporosis and bone disorders can open the door to injuries of the coccyx.
When an injury does occur, such as a broken coccyx, correction of the condition is up to nature. Attempts to realign the bone often prove to be futile, as the extremely strong muscles that cosset the bone will often keep the coccyx out of position. To diagnose the extent of the injury to the tailbone, a physical exam is performed. This can include a rectal exam, as well as x-rays, in order for the doctor to have a true picture of the injury. Because of the bone’s location, it is not able to be immobilized for healing such as an arm bone or leg bone might be.
Also because of the site of the bone, healing can be a slow process. While bed rest is generally recommended, the pain caused by an injured coccyx can persist for quite some time. It is difficult to abstain from regular activities such as walking, sitting, lying down and getting up for as long as it takes the injury to heal. Generally, the treatment will consist mainly of controlling the pain through medications, warm baths, helpful accessories such as soft cushions and adopting a diet that is high in fluids, fiber, fruits and vegetables to ease bowel movement pressure.
Nobody plans to fall. Avoiding risky situations as much as possible is the only recourse. When it does happen and the result of the fall is an injured tailbone, controlling and managing the pain will be the course of action that leads to healing.