What is Fractured Coccyx?
A Fractured Coccyx is the medical term given to a fractured tailbone. To understand the anatomy, the tailbone or the coccyx is the lower most part of the spine. It is quite small and has the shape of a triangle and gently curves from the spine into the pelvis.
Fractured Coccyx or a Fractured Tailbone is usually the result of a trauma. You may suffer a fall from a significant height and land on the coccyx or tailbone and fracture it. Fractured Coccyx may also be a result of domestic violence where something hard is hit on the coccygeal area breaking the coccyx or tailbone. Motor vehicle crashes can also result in Fractured Coccyx. In sports like rugby, where many people fall on one individual during a scramble for the ball might result in that individual suffering from a Fractured Coccyx.
Another major contributing factor in Coccyx fracture is childbirth. Many females during childbirth tend to break the coccyx or the tailbone.
What are the Causes of Fractured Coccyx?
As stated, Fractured Coccyx is basically caused by a trauma to the coccygeal area. Some of the possible causes for a Fractured Coccyx are:
- Accidental falls on slippery surface or on stairs and landing on your buttocks can cause fracture of coccyx.
- Childbirth during which the newborn may break the mother’s coccyx
- Continuous bike riding or rowing for long hours tends to cause friction between the bones in the coccygeal area resulting sometimes in Coccyx Fracture
- Disease conditions like osteoporosis tend to make the bones fragile. The bones in the coccygeal area are no exception and become more fragile and tend to break with slightest of pressure on it and causing a fractured coccyx.
What are the Risk Factors for Fractured Coccyx?
It should be noted that Fractured Coccyx are more seen in females than in males. Some of the risk factors for Fractured Coccyx are:
- Age: Fractured Coccyx is seen more in elderly population than the younger generation.
- Fracture of Coccyx Caused Due to Osteoporosis: As stated above, this condition tends to make the bones weak and fragile and it tends to break with slightest of pressure on it.
- Disease condition which result in loss of bone mineral also pose a risk for Fractured Coccyx like menopause.
- People with decreased muscle mass are at a greater risk for Fractured Coccyx.
- Fracture of Coccyx Caused Due to Sports Injury: Certain sporting activities like rugby, prolonged rowing, long jump, can at times break the coccyx.
- Domestic Violence or Altercation: If an individual is hit hard by an object in the coccygeal region then more likely than not it may result in a Fractured Coccyx.
What are the Symptoms of Fractured Coccyx?
Some of the symptoms of a Fractured Coccyx are:
- Severe pain when getting up from a sitting position or when sitting down is a common symptom of fractured coccyx.
- Pain which tends to increase when having a bowel movement when there is increased pressure on the coccygeal area
- Tenderness over the Coccyx.
- Bruising and Swelling around the coccyx area can be a symptom of fractured coccyx.
How is Fractured Coccyx Diagnosed?
In order to diagnose a Fractured Coccyx, the physician will first take a detailed history of the patient. The physician would want to know whether the patient had a fall or was he or she a victim of domestic violence and being hit by any object. Once a detailed history of how the injury took place is taken then comes the nest step of conducting a focused physical examination of the coccygeal area. Here the physician will look for areas of pain and tenderness in the coccygeal area. A rectal examination may also be done. In cases of a Fractured Coccyx, there will be abnormal movement of the coccyx and the patient will have excruciating pain on palpation. If a Fractured Coccyx is suspected, then the physician will order radiological studies which will confirm a Fractured Coccyx.
How is Fractured Coccyx Treated?
Treatment for Fractured Coccyx is both conservative and surgical.
Conservative Treatments for Fractured Coccyx: The first step towards managing Fractured Coccyx is to calm down the pain until the healing process of the bones is complete. It is very difficult for the coccyx to be immobilized due to its location and the number of muscles that are attached to it and hence the area may remain painful for an awful long time much after the fracture has healed.
The patient will be advised bedrest for a few days. The patient will be given pain medications to include NSAIDs like ibuprofen or Tylenol to relieve pain associated with fractured coccyx. The patient may also be given analgesics for pain relief. In some cases, anesthetic injections will also be given. In rare cases, steroids may be given for pain relief.
For pain during bowel movements the patient may be given stool softeners so that there is less strain in the coccygeal area during bowel movements.
Surgical Treatment for Fractured Coccyx: Surgery is done very rarely for Fractured Coccyx and the success rate for such surgeries is very poor. In case if the pain is unbearable and incapacitating not allowing the patient to function then a procedure called as coccygectomy may be offered in which the surgeon removes the entire coccyx.
What is the Recovery Time for Fractured Coccyx?
Fractured Coccyx are slow to heal and may take quite a lot of time to recover completely. The time it requires for the coccyx or the tail bone to heal and get pain relief may depend on the severity of the injury and may extend anywhere from two to four months before the patient gets complete relief from Fractured Coccyx.
What Can be Done to Prevent Coccyx Fracture?
There can be numerous steps taken to prevent a Fractured Coccyx. These steps can be:
- Be careful when walking in slippery or wet floors
- Take calcium and vitamin D to make the bones strong
- Take adequate safety measures when participating in contact sporting activities.