Broken Coccyx – Causes and Symptoms

Sitting is a common posture which we assume while working. It does not take much energy and gives a comfortable platform for performance of several activities. The human body has specifically developed fat pads called buttocks, which provide a cushion to the bones during this posture. The ability to sit on our buttocks without any support also depends on the vertebral column. The absence of a tail greatly helps in our ability to sit. However, we still have a rudimentary tailbone called the coccyx, which lies at the lower end of the vertebral column. The coccyx bears the weight of the body when a person leans backward while sitting. An injury of this bone causes unbearable pain during sitting and completely deprives us of this comfortable posture.

Anatomy of Coccyx

The coccyx is the terminal part of the vertebral column, which does not have any function in humans (forms tail in animals). It is attached to the sacrum above it and a few pelvic muscles below. The coccyx consists of 4 small bones which are fused together.

Picture 1: Coccyx

(Source: Wikimedia)

Causes of Broken Coccyx

Coccyx is injured by a fall on the buttocks. The injury can vary from a simple bruise to a fracture. Simple falls, like a missed chair, result in a bruised coccyx and do not lead to fracture. A fall from a height generally causes fracture of coccyx with injuries to the sacrum and pelvis. The attachment of muscles and ligaments hold the broken pieces together and prevent their displacement.

Coccyx is also injured during childbirth. This injury  mostly occurs during the first childbirth and is associated with tearing of the surrounding ligaments and muscles.

Symptoms of Broken Coccyx

A broken coccyx causes unbearable pain while sitting. This painful condition is called coccydynia  In an old injury the pain may be on an off. The coccyx can be felt between the buttocks just above the anal opening as a hard pointed structure. If sharp pain (tenderness) is felt by applying pressure on this area then one can be quite sure of having a broken coccyx, especially if this is preceded by a fall on the buttocks. Pain while passing stools is another sign of coccyx injury and clearly suggests the presence of a fracture.

Diagnosis of Broken Coccyx

Sitting pain and tenderness in the region of the coccyx points towards injury to the coccyx.It happens many times that a fall on the buttocks goes unnoticed and the symptoms appear later during daily activities. If these are not severe at the onset they are frequently ignored which further complicates the injury as well as the treatment. As the region is near the anus, some people may feel shy and not even talk about it. Hence, old untreated coccyx injuries are quite common.

An x-ray of the pelvis rarely shows a broken coccyx, but is still done to rule out other pelvic fractures. CT scan is generally used to confirm a coccyx fracture and is especially useful for old fractures. MRI is done to know the amount of soft tissues injured, like ligaments, muscles, and so on.

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About Dr Gauresh (69 Articles)
An orthopedic surgeon trained in JJ Group of Hospitals and Grant Medical College. I have worked in this field for the past 3 years and have significant clinical experience to guide students and patients on any topic in orthopedics.

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  • sakina

    my name is sakina and m 20 years old,i had a fall from a rickshaw on my buttocks 2 years back,it dint pain alot that time but from the last 5 months i have been noticing that i have pain whenever i sit and this pain is increasing gradually day by day.i have shown it to an orthopaedic and after the x ray it was found that i have a fracture in my coccyx and a mild displacement in my sacrum,he gave few pain killers and has asked me to do some exercise,but there isnt any improvement instead the condition seems to get worse.please suggest any good doctor or any remedy.

    • Dr Gauresh

      what you have is coccydynia or pain originating from the coccyx from an old injury. Now healing of this injury is a bit difficult so you have to do the exercises regularly. It may seem early in the course that the pain is worsening but still you have to carry on the exercises. They do help. As for reduction of pain. You can ask your doctor for local steroid injections to have complete pain relief

  • senthil

    my name is senthil from chennai. atpresent i am in huge depression that i have cancelled my marriage and left my marketing job also.
    i had a fall on my buttocks exactly 1.8years ago. i had pain my coccyx but it was not giving that much pain after 3 months of fall, whenever if i ride my bike over speed breaker or small bumps i will get heavy instant pain like nerve pain only at that moment .
    i went to miot hospitals in chennai to meet ortho doc where i have met dr.mohandoss who is the chief ortho. after seeing the ct scan it came as : posterior subluxation of coccyx: he told me to have surgery for removing the coccyx , my biggest mistake i have undergone that surgery without taking the 2nd opinion from other doctors.they have removed partial part of the coccyx. i have been cheated by the doctor only for the sake of money they have done this surgery. with the surgery reports i met other doctors they said it was a foolish decision to do surgery. by giving injection itself the pain will be solved.
    sir its been exactly one year after my surgery now i have got lot of complications like while going to toilet after BM i am getting small bulge of tissues. after surfing thru net i came to know that coccyx is the support for many pelvic muscles ,so now without coccyx they are bulging and causing pain. i have got pain in my buttocks area , hip area, and that operated tailbone area.
    please help me how can i lead a life , i was completely cheated by this doctor and i have also done mistake without taking 2nd opinion. now i am rel\ally lost i thought of committing suicide.

    • Dr Gauresh

      Orthopedic problems can be quite distressing and depressing. But suicide is not a solution to any problem. I would suggest that you meet some re-constructional surgeon who works at a cancer treatment institute. These people have the expertise of reconstructing tissues after they have removed tumor from any part of the body. So your pelvic muscles could be reconstructed and attached to the remaining part of the bone.

  • Nicky

    I fracture my tailbone (a little above the tip) mid June this year. I took an xray lately and have been informed that the fracture has been healed but the tailbone has bent slightly. Is this normal? My pain had reduced now and I am able to sit comfortable. However, when I walk for a long time or bend frequently, I get some pain. After resting the pain reduces. In the process of not being very active due to the fracture/pain I have put on a lot of weight. I would like some tips on how can I go about reducing my weight. Can I join a gym? what exercises can be done. Kindly advise. Thanks.

    • Dr Gauresh

      If your fracture has healed then ideally there shouldnt be any restrictions. As such the exercises that we perform for weight loss do not cause any strain on the coccyx. But if you feel a bout of pain during a particular exercise, you should avoid that.

  • saphyre1225

    I broke my coccyx 2 to 3 years ago. It was diagnosed by x-ray and had a follow-up x-ray that said it healed (though the hospital lost the x-ray and suddenly found it). I have never stopped having pain since then. My family doctor gave me pain meds for awhile but just kept telling me it takes a long time to heal. It especially hurts when I have to go from a sitting to a standing position. After this many years, I am frustrated and just can’t handle living with this pain all this time. Is this normal to experience the pain for several years? Is there anything I can do to get some relief?

    • Dr Gauresh

      The initial injury does not really heal properly if one doesnt take appropriate physical therapy. Use some good seat cushion during activities that cause pain and it will help to heal the inflammed coccyx.

  • jay08

    I have an injured tailbone. Went to my Dr. She gave me medication and sent me to the hospital for an x-ray.
    The hospital said they don’t x-ray the coccyx area anymore as they can’t do anything except give me what my Dr. already has and to rest plenty.
    I can’t sit properly and going to the lou is sore also. Walking is also a bit of a challenge as I get sore very quickly and I can’t ly on my back in bed and sometimes I feel discomfort lying on my tummy to. Is it normal to feel numb round your hips and thighs?

    it would great to hear from you. Thanks for your time 🙂

    • Dr Gauresh

      Ideally for a coccyx you are better off doing an MRI rather than an X-ray. Cause its damage to soft tissues and inflammation which is causing the pain and not the coccyx itself in most of the cases. You can try some of the coccyx pillows mentioned for a few weeks and if still unresolved then maybe a shot of steroids at the painful site may help.

  • juli

    i just found out that my tail bone was broken and is at a 90 degree angle and I have another broken area two vetebrae above it. Both of which happened years ago – probably over 30. the broken vertebrae area have since fused together – and mri shows both bones are swollen and bruised. upper spine is shifting forward causing almost no room for nerve endings and such to pass through it – only looked at back for my right knee needs to be replaced and lower leg was causing a lot of pain while i was trying to sleep.
    any thoughts or comments?
    meeting with specialist in spine surgery soon to talk about pinning/fusing it back to correct place.

    • trina_88

      Hi, So what happened then did you have an operation?
      I broke my coccyx and s5 and it’s at a 90 degree angle. I’m stuggling to pass stool but I’m on all sorts of meds.
      I’m pretty sure everytime I’ve finished in the bathroom I say I am going to have this opp!!! After alot of people on here having pain 3-4 or more years after is kind of scaring me!! Plus the fact my job is manager of a stud and livery and I break in horses :/ so I have a physical job to go back too! 🙁 just want to know if you went with the opp and if well you’re ok firstly and do you think it was worth it? Thanks

  • Grace Wilson Lamb

    I slipped on an ice patch 18 years ago and hit the pavement hard. I never saw a doctor about the injury, but the pain seemed to go away. I then went through a period of time when I would get small bruises on my upper buttocks, making me believe that I had broken a piece of my tailbone off and it was floating. I now have pain, in the lower region, when I get up after sitting for a period of time and have a pain in the back middle of my right thigh and my right foot feels tingling or numbness. I don’t know what kind of doctor to see or what to do. Please help.