All of the snow we have recently received is great for our mountains, but it sure makes walking a potential hazard. Traction shoes can only do so much when ice is virtually everywhere.
Slipping on ice and landing on your bottom can be a significant pain in the tail(bone). We have seen a lot of patients recently who have experienced trauma to their coccyx, also known as the tailbone, which is the triangular, bony structure located at the base of the spine. Because of its location, it is highly susceptible to injury during a fall. Many pelvic floor muscles insert into the coccyx, which can make things like defecation, walking, running and sitting quite painful.
Can You Break Your Tailbone?
Yes, you can; however, it is more commonly bruised. Older adults, especially those who have bone deterioration disorders such as osteopenia are at a higher risk of fracturing their tailbone. Additionally, women are more susceptible to tailbone injuries because their pelvis is broader, which exposes the coccyx.
Pain in the Bottom
While the pain associated with a tailbone injury usually diminishes within a few weeks or months, it can be downright frustrating. Pain can range from dull and achy to sharp and severe based on the activity being performed.
Here are ten tips to help relieve tailbone pain:
- When sitting, avoid slouching by keeping your head, neck, and pelvis in a straight and neutral line. Consider using a donut-shaped pillow or V-shaped wedge cushion to reduce pressure on the coccyx.
- When moving to a sitting or standing position, lean forward as this helps alleviate pressure.
- Apply ice and/or heat to the tailbone area and gluteal muscles for 10-15 minutes. Do this four times per day to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
- Take over the counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS) medication, such as ibuprofen as needed to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Avoid sitting for extended periods by taking short breaks every 20 minutes or so.
- Massage the muscles attached to the tailbone to help ease pain.
- Physical therapy can be beneficial in teaching pelvic floor relaxation techniques (reverse Kegels) which help get the coccyx into better alignment and can relieve the pain experienced when urinating or defecating.
- Avoid activities that stress the tailbone, including cycling.
- Add extra fiber to your diet to soften stools. This will make bowel movements more comfortable while also reducing the risk of constipation.
- Depending on your level of pain, your doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections.
If you have had recent trauma to your coccyx and are experiencing pain, schedule an appointment with your doctor or physical therapist. Through an evaluation, they can help determine the most appropriate treatment for your injury to help you get back to doing the things you love.