Slipping and falling in a public place is embarrassing and painful. If you fall backward, there is a risk of breaking your coccyx, also known as your tailbone.
Tailbone fractures are rare, but falls are the most common cause. A broken tailbone is not always obvious right away, so it is important to know the signs.
Diagnosing a broken tailbone
A painful tailbone is more likely to be a bruise or torn ligament than a broken bone, but you should monitor your symptoms and see your doctor to rule out a fracture.
Pain and swelling around the lower back and upper buttocks might indicate a fractured coccyx. Sitting may be painful, and you may experience pain during intimacy or while using the toilet. Diagnosis typically involves a physical examination and diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays or an MRI.
Recovering from a broken tailbone
Your doctor can recommend a treatment plan that works for you. Physical therapy can strengthen the muscles in your lower back, stretch the surrounding ligaments and improve your posture to facilitate healing. Some patients benefit from electrical nerve stimulation, steroid injections or pelvic floor therapy.
Pain management is important when recovering from a broken tailbone. Your doctor or physical therapist may recommend using a special cushion to relieve pressure while sitting. Surgery is usually not necessary.
Fortunately, coccyx fractures are not common. However, if you have recently slipped and fallen and are experiencing tailbone pain, you should see your doctor to rule out the possibility of a break.