Are you experiencing pain near the bottom of your spine? You may have a bruised or even broken tailbone if you’ve recently had a fall or accident. This common but painful injury can take months to heal. For some people, a fractured tailbone leads to chronic pain and limited mobility. 

Here’s what you should know about a broken tailbone injury, including how it happens and what to expect during recovery. 

The Structure of the Coccyx (Tailbone)

The coccyx, commonly known as the tailbone, is the small, triangular bone at the base of your spine. It’s below the sacrum, the last part of the lumbar spine. It’s made up of three to five vertebrae that are either fused together or semi-fused. 

Despite its small size, the coccyx plays a crucial role in supporting your weight when you sit. When you are seated, your coccyx supports a large share of your body weight by curving inward. It provides attachment points for various muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the pelvis, which support the pelvic floor, anus, and bowel function. 

Morphology or the structure of the coccyx varies by person. Most people have four fused vertebrae in the tailbone, but some have three or even five. The degree of curvature or rotation while sitting also varies by person. Women have a broader pelvis, which reduces pelvic rotation, increases the weight on the coccyx while sitting, and increases the risk of injury.

Symptoms of a Broken Tailbone

A bruised or broken tailbone can cause several symptoms, including:

  • Persistent, dull ache or pain above the buttocks
  • Tingling or numbness around the tailbone that may radiate down your legs
  • Pain that gets worse when you sit, lean back, lie down, crouch, or get up from a seated position
  • Bruising or swelling around your tailbone
  • Irregular or painful bowel movements or pain while urinating

Tailbone pain or coccydynia is the most obvious symptom. This pain can last for up to three months or longer and makes it difficult to sit, use the restroom and sleep. 

Differences Between a Bruised and Broken Tailbone

Tailbone pain isn’t necessarily a fractured coccyx; it may just be a bruised tailbone. These injuries are very similar, and it may be impossible to tell the difference based on your symptoms alone. 

However, there are some differences: 

  • Pain intensity: A broken tailbone often causes more severe pain than a bruised tailbone. The pain from a bruise is usually sharp initially but subsides over time, whereas the pain from a break tends to be more persistent and intense.
  • Duration: A bruised coccyx typically heals faster, often within a few weeks. A broken tailbone can take eight to 12 weeks to heal completely.
  • Incidence: Bruised tailbones and even pulled tailbone ligaments are far more common than fractured tailbones. The coccyx is not easy to fracture and isn’t commonly broken even in a fall or crash. The annual incidence of a coccygeal fracture is 33 per 100,000 males and 86 per 100,000 females. 

A physician may rely on X-rays and a physical to determine if a tailbone injury is a fracture. This exam requires feeling for bone spicules or pointy growths. Sometimes, a rectal exam is used to diagnose coccygeal pain. By grasping the coccyx between the forefinger and thumb, a doctor can move it to assess the range of motion.

Common Causes of a Fractured Tailbone

Most tailbone injuries are the result of a fall, such as a slip and fall on a slippery floor or down a stairway. Any other type of impact or direct blow to the coccyx can also cause an injury. Sometimes these injuries are sustained in a car accident or even contact sports. 

Childbirth is another leading cause of tailbone injuries and fractures. These birth injuries usually happen when the coccyx, located at the base of the birth canal, does not move backward as it should. This causes dislocation, bruising, or fractures as the baby passes through the birth canal. 

Some people are at a higher risk of coccygeal fractures, such as: 

  • Women, due to a wider pelvis and less rotation of the coccyx while sitting
  • Older women due to osteoporosis, which increases the risk of all types of fractures
  • Women who have given birth recently or are pregnant
  • Overweight or obese adults
  • People who engage in activities that cause repetitive strain on the tailbone, like rowing or cycling

Some people are simply more likely to suffer a fractured tailbone for anatomical reasons. 

A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help with a Broken Tailbone Claim

If you suspect you have a broken tailbone, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible for an accurate diagnosis and treatment. If you sustained your injury in a fall or accident that you believe was caused by someone else, you may be entitled to financial compensation. A personal injury lawyer can help you hold the responsible party accountable and pursue compensation for your medical expenses, lost earnings, and other losses. 

Contact the Louisiana Personal Injury Law Firm Of Kenny Habetz Injury Law for Help Today

If you’ve been injured in Louisiana, please call Kenny Habetz Injury Law for a free case evaluation with a Louisiana personal injury lawyer or contact us online. We have offices in Lafayette and Crowley, LA.

Kenny Habetz Injury Law – Lafayette
110 E Kaliste Saloom Rd Ste 101 Lafayette, LA 70508
(337) 399-9000

Kenny Habetz Injury Law – Crowley
604 S Parkerson Ave. Crowley, LA 70526
(337) 329-8883