Tailbone Injury: Care Instructions

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The sections of the spine

Overview

Injuries to the tailbone (coccyx) can occur when you slip or fall and hit your tailbone. A tailbone injury causes pain when you sit, especially when you slump or sit on a hard seat. Straining to have a bowel movement can also be very painful. Tailbone injuries can take several months to heal, but home treatment can ease the pain.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine to reduce pain and swelling. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your tailbone for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • You can switch between using ice and heat 2 to 3 days after the injury. Take a warm bath for 20 minutes, 3 or 4 times a day. You can use a doughnut-shaped pillow or towel in the tub to pad the hard tub surface.
  • Do not sit on hard, unpadded surfaces. Sit on a doughnut-shaped pillow to take pressure off the tailbone area.
  • Avoid constipation, because straining to have a bowel movement will increase your tailbone pain.
    • Include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains in your diet each day. These foods are high in fiber.
    • Drink plenty of fluids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase your fluid intake.
    • Get some exercise every day. Build up slowly to 30 to 60 minutes a day on 5 or more days of the week.
    • Take a fiber supplement, such as Citrucel or Metamucil, every day if needed. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • Schedule time each day for a bowel movement. A daily routine may help. Take your time and do not strain when having your bowel movement.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if you have new or worse symptoms in your legs or buttocks. Symptoms may include:

  • Numbness or tingling.
  • Weakness.
  • Pain.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.