Justine has been a Registered Nurse for 10 years and has a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing degree.
Backbone of Your Body
Your spine is made up of 24 small bones called vertebrae that support the weight of your body. Starting at the base of your skull, you have seven cervical vertebrae followed by twelve thoracic vertebrae, followed by five lumbar vertebrae. Below the lumbar vertebrae is the sacrum and then the coccyx.
The coccyx is often called the tailbone. It's made up of three to five small bones that are fused together forming a small triangular bone. The coccyx may not seem to be a very useful bone, but it plays an important role in supporting your body as you sit. The coccyx also functions as an attachment site for many of the muscles of the lower back and buttocks. If you have ever injured your tailbone, you can probably remember how very painful that can be.
Sandra was out on a hike one beautiful spring day. The sun was shining, and it was a perfect day to enjoy the outdoors. As she was hiking with her dog, she slipped and fell hard onto her backside. She immediately felt the pain and had to catch her breath from the impact. She slowly walked her way back to her car and began to drive home. Sitting in the driver seat, her pain was nearly unbearable. She decided to go to the emergency room to be evaluated.
After an exam and tests, the doctor told her she had a dislocated coccyx. She had dislocated her finger before, but she never thought it was possible to dislocate her tailbone.
Injuries to the coccyx usually occur from direct trauma, such as a fall. A fall can result in a dislocated coccyx. A dislocated bone refers to a bone that isn't broken, but is no longer in its normal position, which can be very painful.
Thus, the main symptom of a dislocated coccyx is pain. Pain is worse when sitting or when standing for a long time. The pain is in the area of the tailbone, and it may also be tender to touch. There may be bruising and swelling at the site as well. Straining to have a bowel movement will likely be painful, as will sexual intercourse for women.
These symptoms can occur for any coccyx injury. In order to determine if the coccyx is dislocated, your doctor will conduct a rectal exam to feel the coccyx bone and it's position. X-rays will also be done, which will show the dislocation.
Okay, now that we figured out that Sandra has a dislocated coccyx, let's figure out how to treat it.
If you watch medical shows, you may have seen doctors putting a dislocated shoulder back into place. It's literally just moving the body part to get it back into the correct place. When we're talking about the coccyx, however, it's not quite so simple.
Because of where the coccyx is located, it's a little less obvious how to manipulate it back into place. Your doctor will medicate you for pain prior to any manipulation of the area. The doctor will try to put the coccyx back into place by manipulating it through your rectum. Once the coccyx is back in place, you'll still likely be experiencing pain from the fall and injury.
Treatment measures are aimed at managing pain and allowing the body to heal. Pain can be managed with the use of over-the-counter medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs include ibuprofen or naproxen. These help with swelling and pain relief.
Applying ice to the area also helps with swelling and pain. You may want to use a wedge pillow when sitting to help relieve pressure on the coccyx, and you'll want to move and change positions frequently. Since bowel movements can be painful, you'll want to avoid constipation by eating a high-fiber diet and taking stool softeners if necessary.
Usually these simple steps, along with time, allow your tailbone to heal. Some people may not be able to manage their pain with these interventions, and the doctor may need to prescribe stronger pain medications. Few people may require even more invasive procedures to manage the pain, such as injections into the coccyx area. And, in extremely rare situations, the coccyx may be surgically removed if it's not healing and still causing severe pain.
Let's review. Your spine is made up of 24 small bones called vertebrae. At the end of your spine is a small triangular bone made up of three to five fused bones called the coccyx, or tailbone. Any bone in your body, including the coccyx, can be injured, resulting in a fracture or dislocation.
A dislocated coccyx is usually a result of a fall that causes you to land hard on your bottom. A dislocated bone refers to when a bone isn't necessarily broken, but is no longer in its correct position. A dislocated coccyx is determined by rectal exam and x-ray.
Symptoms of a dislocated coccyx include pain in the area that's worse when sitting or standing for prolonged periods. The area may have bruising, swelling, and may be tender to the touch. Women will feel pain with sexual intercourse, and bowel movements cause increased pain due to the location of the coccyx.
Treatment of a dislocated coccyx includes rectal manipulation of the coccyx into the correct position. Pain is managed with the use of NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Applying ice to the area is also helpful, as is sitting on a wedge cushion to relieve pressure.
Ultimately, it just takes time to recover from a dislocated coccyx.
Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site is for your information only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack