Tailbone Injury in Children: Care Instructions

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The spine

Injuries to the tailbone (coccyx) can occur when a child slips or falls and hits his or her tailbone. A tailbone injury causes pain when your child sits, especially when he or she slumps or sits 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 child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your child's tailbone for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • You can switch between using ice and heat 2 to 3 days after the injury. Have your child take a warm bath for 20 minutes, 3 or 4 times a day. Use a doughnut-shaped pillow or towel in the tub to pad the hard tub surface.
  • Have your child sit on soft, padded surfaces. A doughnut-shaped pillow can take pressure off the tailbone.
  • Help your child avoid constipation, because straining to have a bowel movement will increase tailbone pain.
    • Include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains in your child's diet each day. These foods are high in fibre.
    • Have your child drink plenty of fluids, enough so that his or her urine is light yellow or clear like water. If your child has to limit fluids because of a health problem, talk with your doctor before you increase how much your child drinks.
    • Help your child get some exercise every day. Build up slowly to 30 to 60 minutes a day on 5 or more days of the week.
    • Schedule time each day for a bowel movement. A daily routine may help. Ask your child to take time and not strain when having a bowel movement.
  • Help your child follow the doctor's directions for stretching and other exercises that might help with pain.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if your child has new or worse symptoms in his or her legs or buttocks. Symptoms may include::

  • Numbness or tingling.
  • Weakness.
  • Pain.

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

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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

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