The tailbone is actually not one bone but rather several bones located in the lower back. The tailbone, which is also referred to as the coccyx, can be either bruised or broken, and there are a number of different causes of tailbone injuries that can result in a bruise or a break. Bruises and breaks cause pain, which is referred to as coccygodynia or coccydynia. This pain can range from mild pain to severe pain.
The most common cause of a bruised tailbone is a fall onto the tailbone. Other causes include repetitive strain that injures the muscles and surgery. Childbirth can also cause bruised tailbones. In some cases, the cause of a bruised tailbone is unknown. Coccyx.org states that tailbone injuries are five times more common in women than in men, perhaps because the shape of the female pelvis leaves the female tailbone more exposed than the male tailbone.
There are many symptoms of a bruised tailbone. Symptoms include pain in the coccyx area (the lower back where the tailbone is located) when standing or sitting (especially on soft surfaces), which may be accompanied by severe pain when you move from sitting to standing. You may also experience pain after a bowel movement. Additional symptoms include deep aches in the lower back, sensitivity to pressure when someone touches your tailbone, pains in the legs and pain during sexual intercourse.
A bruised tailbone generally is diagnosed primarily by the symptoms described above. A doctor will discuss your symptoms and may press on the area of the tailbone to check for sensitivity in order to distinguish a bruised tailbone from other causes of lower back pain A broken tailbone may be diagnosed by an x-ray, a CAT scan or an MRI.
Bruised tailbones may take between a few days and a few weeks to heal. Sitting on a doughnut cushion during this time may help expedite the healing process. Placing an ice pack on your tailbone for between 20 and 30 minutes every 3 to 5 hours may provide relief until the pain goes away. Doctors may prescribe pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medicines as well. Finally, you should avoid constipation by ingesting plenty of fibre and fluids while your tailbone is healing.
Unfortunately, a bruised tailbone is generally not preventable because the majority of bruised tailbones are caused by unexpected accidents. However, if you are engaging in contact sports where a fall is more likely to occur, you should wear protective equipment to cushion your tailbone from potential falls.