Fractured Tailbone While Snowboarding

Man jumping with snowboard from mountain hill
Be careful while snowboarding. (Image: SerrNovik/iStock/Getty Images)

Your tailbone, also known as the coccyx, is a triangular shape bone located at the base of your spine. Fracturing the tailbone is a common injury in snowboarding because even the most experienced snowboarder has a high-impact fall on the rear from time to time. Consult with your doctor if you’re experiencing tailbone pain from snowboarding.

Identification

If you have a tailbone fracture, sitting can be painful because of the pressure on the base of the spine. You may notice bruising in your buttocks region, as well as swelling and a deep aching sensation. You may experience a sharp stabbing pain when you move from a sitting to standing position. The pain will also be present during bowel movements and sexual intercourse. The pain from a tailbone fracture can range from mild discomfort to severe.

Cause

Trauma to the base of your spine can result in a tailbone fracture. Trauma during snowboarding most often occurs when you lose your balance and fall or land on your rear during jump tricks. The locked position of your feet in a snowboard restricts your range of motion, so a beginner may have difficulties with balance and will fall frequently. If you’re not wearing protective gear to protect your tailbone, you increase your risk of a fracture. Trying to perform snowboarding tricks that are above your skill level can also lead to a tailbone fracture.

Treatment

Under most circumstances, your tailbone fracture will heal on its own over a period of weeks to months. Minimize the pain you experience by taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Your doctor can also give you a corticosteroid injection that can permanently or temporarily relieve the pain as your tailbone heals. During the first three days after an injury, ice your tailbone for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, but switch to a heating pad on the fourth day. Your doctor can perform coccygeal manipulation to move the tailbone into proper position by inserting a finger into your rectum. A special pillow may protect your tailbone and ease discomfort while sitting. Surgery to remove the coccyx can be done for more severe fractures.

Prevention

Always wear safety equipment to protect your tailbone while snowboarding. Pads and protective shorts reduce the impact on your tailbone during falls. Make sure you’re using the correct length of board for your height and that the width of your board is appropriate for your foot size. The attendant at a ski resort or a store clerk at an athletic store can help you choose an appropriate-sized board to minimize your risk of injuries.

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