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Tailbone Injury

What is a tailbone injury?

The tailbone (or coccyx) is the small bone at the lower end of the spine. It is usually injured in a fall onto a hard surface, such as ice or stairs. The pain usually is due to bruising of the bone or stretching of the ligaments. Tailbone injuries can be diagnosed by finding tenderness of the bone located in the upper part of the groove between the buttocks.

Fractures (breaks) of the tailbone are rare and they heal fine, so an x-ray is unnecessary for this injury. Dislocations of the tailbone are also rare but they need to be put back in place by a doctor.

How can I take care of my child?

A bruised tailbone will usually hurt for 3 to 4 weeks. Give your child ibuprofen (Advil) for 2 or 3 days. Ibuprofen usually gives more relief for muscle and bone pain than acetaminophen (Tylenol). Sitting on a large rubber ring or a cushion placed forward on the chair will take pressure off the tailbone. A heating pad may also help. Occasionally bowel movements will cause enough discomfort so that 1 or 2 tablespoons of mineral oil will temporarily be needed twice a day. Call your health care provider if the pain is severe.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2001-12-12
Last reviewed: 2006-03-02
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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