A fracture occurs when too much force is placed on the bone, causing it to break. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, most fractures are the result of trauma, such as a fall or a car accident. In most cases, a broken tailbone occurs when a person falls backward directly onto the tailbone. A patient with a broken tailbone will experience severe pain in the lower back that may radiate into the legs.
According to Medline Plus of the National Institutes of Health, the patient should apply an ice pack to the area of the broken tailbone to reduce pain and swelling. Because sitting and standing causes blood and fluid to pool toward the broken tailbone with gravity, the patient should apply the ice pack while lying face-down. Ice will numb the pain associated with the broken tailbone and reduce the swelling and inflammation that occurs immediately after the tailbone breaks. An ice pack or frozen vegetables should be applied to the broken tailbone for 20 minutes, then removed for 20 minutes. This can be done throughout the day.
A doctor will likely prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as naproxen or ibuprofen, to relieve pain and reduce the inflammation associated with a broken tailbone. In more severe cases, a doctor may prescribe narcotics, such as Percocet or Lortab, or narcotic-like medications, such as Tramadol. A patient should be aware of the side effects listed on the drug label of each medication and let his doctor know if he is experiencing them.
In more severe cases of a broken tailbone, surgery may be necessary. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, internal fixation, which involves the placement of metal plates, pins or screws, may be necessary to hold the broken pieces of bone together. Specifically with a broken tailbone, internal fixation may be necessary because excessive movement of the tailbone may alter or delay the healing process.
About this Author
Jacques Courseault, M.D., began writing professionally in 2007. He is currently the fitness editor for Dr.Gourmet.com, founder and writer of ExerciseMenu.com, and co-founder of Don’t Weight to Lose. He is a resident in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Dr. Courseault received his bachelor’s degree in psychology at Tulane University, and is a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine.