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Coccyx (tailbone)

Coccyx or tailbone is terminal part of the vertebral column. Unlike the rest of the vertebral column where each vertebra is separated, coccyx consists of three to five coccigeal vertebrae, but these bones are fused and actually make one larger bone. Trauma and injury of the coccyx lead to coccydynia. Coccydynia is actually a condition in which the leading signs are pain and discomfort in coccygeal area. Injury of this area can be a cause of bruises, the tailbone may be dislocated and the most severe outcome of the injury is fracture of coccygeal bone. The healing process takes some time but the bone eventually heals completely without additional need for surgery. Women are more affected by this type of injury comparing to men.

Symptoms of Coccyx Injury

The injury or fracture of coccyx causes intensive pain localized in coccygeal area. Apart from the pain the whole coccygeal area is tender to touch. The pain intensifies when a person sits especially, if this position is maintained for longer period of time. A few days after the injury a bruise will appear.

The person can additionally complain about the pain which also intensifies during defecation or any other strenuous activity. In women pain may occur during intercourse.

In case that a person has injured this area and he/ she feels pain especially while sitting the best way to do is to report the problem to the doctor. This way the doctor will examine the patient, perform certain tests and definitely confirm or rule out the diagnosis of coccygeal fracture.

A doctor may examine the entire spine. The doctor can also perform rectal examination and feel the parts of the fractured bone. Palpation of the affected area can be painful. X-ray of the injured area is the simplest way of evaluation. If there is a fracture it will be visible on the X-ray. Some doctors like to take x-rays in two positions, sitting and standing. This way the evaluation of the potential fracture can be simpler and more reliable.

Causes of Coccyx Fracture and Injury

Direct trauma to the coccygeal area is the most common cause of the tailbone fracture. The person can end up with fracture if he/ she falls directly onto the bone. Similarly, direct blow to the coccyx is additional cause of the fracture. Tailbone can be injured even during delivery. Coccyx can also be injured if it is exposed to repetitive friction. This is common for rowing or cycling.

And finally, in not so often cases coccygeal bone can be destroyed by infections or tumors which at some point can lead to the fracture.

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