Sacral Fracture: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

The sacrum and coccyx

A sacral fracture occurs when a bone called the sacrum breaks. The sacrum is a large triangular bone at the bottom of the spine. It fits like a wedge between the two hip bones. The sacrum is made up of the sacral vertebrae, which are fused together.

Sometimes the coccyx, or tailbone, is fractured along with the sacrum. The tailbone is the small bone at the bottom of the spine. It is attached to the sacral bone above it.

In some cases, an injury to the sacrum can affect the nerves that control the bladder, bowel, or legs.

Home treatment may be all that is needed for some sacral fractures. If a fracture is severe or affects nerves, you may need surgery.

Bones heal best when you take good care of yourself. Eat a variety of healthy foods, and don't smoke.

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 or nurse call line 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?

  • Follow your doctor's instructions for bedrest and activity.
  • 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.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the painful area 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). Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin or brace.
  • Do not sit on hard, unpadded surfaces. Sit on a doughnut-shaped pillow to take pressure off the tailbone area.
  • Put only as much weight on each leg as your doctor tells you to. He or she may advise you to use crutches, a walker, or a cane to help you walk.
  • Avoid constipation, because straining to have a bowel movement will increase your pain.
    • Include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains in your diet each day. These foods are high in fibre.
    • Drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase your fluid intake.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You are unable to move a leg at all.

Call your doctor or nurse call line 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.
  • You lose bladder or bowel control.

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

  • You are not getting better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: May 23, 2016