Tailbone (Coccyx) Pain Injury on Tailbone Due to Fall

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Are Injuries from a fall to Blame for Your Coccyx Pain?

Coccydynia is the formal term used to describe pain that emanates from the coccyx or tailbone of the spine. The trauma produced from a fall directly on the tailbone is the most frequent cause of coccyx pain. The impact may dislocate or fracture the coccyx. It is likely to inflame the joints and the surrounding ligaments, muscles and nerves.

Injuries from a fall as a Cause of Coccyx Pain

In order to understand how an injury from a fall generates coccyx pain, it is useful to take a look at where the coccyx is and how it is designed to perform. The coccyx is the fifth and final region of the spine. While it can consist of three to five vertebrae, 80% of people possess four. Similar to the sacral spine above it, the vertebrae of the coccyx may be fused. They may also remain in two segments. Either way, mobility is limited. The coccyx is often considered a vestigial remnant of a tail, which gives us its common name, the tailbone. The coccyx is a relatively small structure of the spine. It varies in length from 3 to 10 centimeters.

The coccyx serves several basic functions. It provides a point of attachment for tendons, ligaments, and muscles of the pelvic region. It is the point at which the spinal cord is anchored. The coccyx helps give support to the spine. Along with the ischium bones, the coccyx forms a tripod for stability while seated.

The trauma from the sudden impact of a fall directly onto the tailbone can generate immediate and severe pain. An impact fall may also generate pain across the hips, lower pelvis, and down the legs. The coccyx may dislocate by shifting to the left or the right. Either the sacrococcygeal joint, where the tailbone joins the sacrum, or the intercoccygeal joints between the segments are apt to absorb the full brunt of the force and hyperextend. The will not only inflame the joints but also stress the tendons and muscles that surround the coccyx and pelvic floor. Putting pressure on the tailbone exacerbates the pain. Rising from a seated position increases the pain. It is believed that the musculature connected to the coccyx may cause dislocation during this change of position. Whatever force moves the bones in the coccyx beyond their limited range can cause the ligaments, muscles, and nerves to become inflamed.

Beyond the pain created by impact trauma, coccyx pain can be induced by repetitive stress activities that create friction on the tailbone, childbirth, pain from other spinal injuries, infections, and tumors. If you are experiencing tailbone pain, or any pain in the lower back, buttocks, hips, or legs, get in touch with an expert in spine health. Early diagnosis and treatment can help ameliorate current pain and prevent long term, chronic issues.


Health Tips for Tailbone

  • Avoid sitting for long periods of time. Take frequent walks or standing breaks if possible. Lean forward to direct your weight away from the tailbone.
  • Use a doughnut pillow to sit on, particularly during periods of tailbone pain. Use ice or heat to relieve tenderness or pain.
  • Watch your weight. Extra pounds can put extra stress on the tailbone.
  • Eat more fiber. Fiber rich foods can soften stools and help avoid constipation that can further irritate the muscles surrounding the coccyx.
  • Consider over the counter medications to relieve pain and inflammation.

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