Coccyx Fracture : Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Navjot Singh January 24, 2012 0
Coccyx Fracture

coccyx fracture is a fracture of the coccyx, commonly called a ‘broken tailbone’. Although they may be slow to heal, the majority of coccyx injuries can be managed with cautious treatment.  The coccyx is the endmost part of the vertebral column. This is a minute structure which assumes a triangular shape and is also called, the tailbone. The coccyx itself is composed of three to five mingled vertebrae. You may find the coccyx to be slightly curved towards the pelvis. Because of the coccyx’s anatomical location, this is vulnerable to certain types of injuries. There can be quite a lot of circumstances that would lead to the fracture of the coccyx. However, the number one reason for sustaining coccyx fracture is believed to be a direct blow to the coccyx. Fracture to the coccyx is a serious thing and must be given attention because it takes some time for the fracture to heal. Learn something more about coccyx fracture in the next few paragraphs.

Types of Coccyx Fracture :-

There are actually two types of coccyx fracture. The classification of coccyx fracture is based on the location of the fracture. Tuchis was the first person to classify coccyx fracture circa 1848. The first type of coccyx fracture involves the olecranon and the second one affects the radial head. The latter is believed to be a misnomer because the radius is not part of the coccyx but the elbow rather.

Causes of Coccyx Fracture :-

The principal causes of coccyx fracture include the following:

Fall – One may easily fracture his coccyx when accidentally falling and landing on the buttocks first. Engaging in sports like basketball and skating increase ones risk of sustain coccyx fracture.

Childbirth - Another speculated reason for coccyx fracture is during childbirth wherein the fetus puts forth pressure on the coccyx and resulting to fracture.

The remaining causes of coccyx fracture are believed to be idiopathic. This means that the coccyx just gets fractured without any known cause. However, there are several factors which increase ones risk of developing coccyx fracture and these include the following:

Old age - As a person goes through the normal process of aging his bones are likely to become brittle which makes it vulnerable to fractures especially at the coccygeal area.

Being a woman - The females practically have wider pelvis which increases their risk of sustaining coccyx fracture.

Nutritional Deficiency - Lacking the essential vitamins and other nutrients, especially vitamin D which is necessary for the formation of sturdy bones, one’s risk of developing coccyx fracture also heightens.

Bone anomalies - Having bone anomalies such as osteoporosis also make an individual predisposed to coccyx fracture.

Sports – At times, fracture to the coccyx can be associated with rigid sports.

Vehicular Accidents - Any form of vehicular accident which creates a sudden blow directly to the coccyx can cause fracture to the area.

Symptoms of Coccyx Fracture :-

The primary symptom immediately following a fracture to the coccyx would be pain. The pain especially becomes more prominent when one assumes a sitting position. Bearing down during defecation also triggers a painful sensation and the affected individual may find relief by lying down because pressure on the fractured coccyx will be lessened. When you have noted any of these symptoms, it is imperative that you consult your doctor the soonest so as to confirm the possibility of a coccyx fracture.

Diagnosis :-

Thorough physical examination is highly necessary in diagnosing the presence of coccyx fracture. Modes of diagnosing coccyx fracture typically consist of digital rectal exam. Imaging studies like x-ray may or may not be indicated because there’s a high tendency of getting false negative or false positive results. Minute fractures have the tendency of getting missed during the x-ray examination and fractures caused by congenital anomalies may be mistaken as coccyx fracture. Thus, a rectal exam is the preferred mode of diagnosing fracture. Normally, during the rectal exam, there will be no pain upon palpation. However, when one has fractured coccyx, the area may feel tender upon palpation. To further confirm the presence of coccyx fracture, a local anesthetic may be injected to the buttocks to determine whether or not the pain is coming from the bone.

Treatment of Coccyx Fracture

Coccyx fracture is usually left to heal on its own. Surgery and manipulation of fractured coccyx aren’t all the time necessary. Thus, the primary goal of treatment for coccyx fracture is usually controlling the pain while the fractured coccyx is allowed to heal. One of the reasons why surgery is not indicated to repair coccyx fracture is that it would be very difficult to immobilize the area following the procedure. Another reason is that success rate of coccyx surgery is often meager. Doctors would usually recommend a complete bed rest following a coccyx fracture. Pain medications and steroid injections may be indicated to control pain and provide comfort to the patient while the coccyx is undergoing the healing process. The coccyx fracture would just eventually heal in time, along with the help of the muscles around it which helps push the coccyx back to its normal position. One should be patient enough to give the coccyx ample time to repair. With proper care and treatment, the condition would eventually resolve. However, if it doesn’t resolve within 12 to 15 months, you should consult your doctor because there might be other underlying pathology causing the condition.

Complication :-

If the condition is pervasive despite all the modes of treating it, certain forms of complication are to be expected. One of the common complications of coccyx fracture is failure to realign. This condition leads to impaired mobility because pain will surely accompany one wrong movement. Sophisticated modes of treatment are essentially required for this matter.

Prevention :-

Coccyx fracture is an entirely preventable condition though. There are some precautionary ways that one may observe so as to veer away from this condition. Some of the ways in preventing coccyx fracture are the following:

  • Foods rich in vitamin D should be included in the diet so as to facilitate strong bone formation.
  • You may also perform some exercise routines that would help strengthen the muscles of your lower back.
  • Avoid doing activities that would strain your back.
  • Always observe proper body mechanics that would ensure proper alignment of bones.

We hope that you have find this article useful in dealing with your battle against coccyx fracture. Kindly share your feedback with us.


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