Bruised Tailbone: Symptoms, Treatment & Recovery

Instructor: Alyssa Campbell

Alyssa is an active RN and teaches Nursing and Leadership university courses. She also has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice and a Master's in Business Administration.

A bruised tailbone is an uncommon but fairly painful injury. Read this lesson to learn more about the tailbone, symptoms of tailbone bruising, and recommendations for the treatment and recovery of this injury.

Tailbone Pain

Jeremiah is a young man who enjoys spending time outdoors with his friends. Looking forward to their weekend long bike ride along the river, Jeremiah decides it would be a good idea to warm up for the activity. After all, it has been a long time since he has been on his bicycle.

He dusts off his bike and hits a local trail. The trail is much bumpier than he expects and it doesn't take long before he begins to have some pain and discomfort in his coccyx or tailbone area. He is disappointed that he will be unable to go as far as he expected, but the pain in his tailbone forces him to turn back.

Finding the pain unbearable during the rocky return, he finally makes it to his car to pack and head home. Worried he may have hurt his tailbone, he calls his best friend to discuss his concerns.

What Is Coccydynia?

Upset and concerned, Jeremiah calls his best friend who happens to be a medical student to discuss the pain. His friend explains that Jeremiah is experiencing coccydynia, or tailbone pain, likely caused by tailbone bruising while riding his bike on a bumpy trail. Bruising of this bone may occur as a result of a high impact fall onto the buttocks, or during activities like cycling that place constant pressure on the bone.

The coccyx, or tailbone, is located at the base of the spine

The symptoms of a bruised tailbone may include:

  • Pain at the tailbone while sitting
  • Numbness or tingling while sitting
  • Bruising at the tailbone
  • Swelling at the site of injury

Treating the Injury

Jeremiah learns from his friend that cycling may have caused the bruising as a result of the constant pressure on the bike seat. Thought to be of little use to the human body, the coccyx is made up of three to five small bones at the base of the spine, indicating the historical presence of a tail. However, because the tailbone does bear some of the body's weight while a person sits, it may a particularly painful injury.

To help manage Jeremiah's tailbone injury, his friend recommends the following:

  • Ice- Ice or a cold compress is recommended immediately after the injury to reduce pain and swelling to the injury.
  • Pain medication- Over the counter pain medication may prove beneficial in the reduction of swelling and provide analgesia, or pain relief, caused by the injury. Some medications result in thinning of the blood and are only recommended for use the day after sustaining the injury.
  • Use of special medical devices- Inflatable devices like round pillows that have a hole in the middle will allow Jeremiah to sit comfortably while off-loading and lessening the pressure on the tailbone.
  • Avoidance of certain activities- Activities that may cause additional discomfort like prolonged sitting on cycling should be avoided.
  • Positioning- Positioning or purposefully leaning forward while in the seated position will also help to off-load some of the weight that would cause pain to the coccyx.

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