Coccyx Whiplash - A Fall on Your Tailbone Affects Your Neck

Posted in Neck Pain Disorders Back Pain Disorders on Oct 19, 2016

Tailbone Whiplash

What happens when you fall down on your tailbone (aka sacrum or coccyx)? Think of a figure skater or hockey player who slips on the ice and falls straight onto their tailbone. (Yes, I know we live in North Lakes and Brisbane where "cold" is anything below 20 degrees, but you know what I mean.)

When you fall or slip on your tailbone, it can bruise and it can be sore. The bruise can take several weeks or months for the swelling of the connective tissue around the bone (called periosteum) to settle. In short, falls onto the coccyx/tailbone are painful!

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It Doesn't End at the End

A fall onto the coccyx doesn't just affect your rear end. Think of the ripple that happens when you crack a whip. That ripple may start at your tailbone, but it traverses and creates a whiplash effect all the way up to your spine!

All of the joints of the spine have interlocking facets, meaning they can only move so far and they typically move as a unit. However, if/when these forces gets up to the level of C1 and C2 in the upper neck, the rules change.

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The C1 and C2 do not have facet joints to limit their movement (which is why we are able to move our necks so much). The trade-off for allowing mobility is that they are the weakest joints in the spine and most susceptible to injury. Therefore, the whiplash effect from an injury on your tailbone will almost always involve and injure not just your lower back, but also your neck and brainstem!

You Don't Need to Injure Your Neck to Injure Your Neck

It doesn't always take a direct head, neck, or shoulder injury to affect the upper part of the neck that's going to affect the brain stem itself. You can have an injury right down in the lower back, and it can cause the upper neck to misalign (aka subluxate).

Or, because of this whiplash effect, even a fall on your hand, knee or hip, can have a profound impact at the top. Not every injury is going to cause the upper neck to misalign ... but it only takes one, and that one does not always cause instant pain or discomfort. The only way to know for certain is to have your upper neck assessed. When was the last time you had your upper neck checked?  A fall on your tailbone (aka coccyx) can cause a whiplash-type effect that causes an injury with your upper neck.

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