Had coccyx removed, had to wait 2 years to get partial relief of pain

Linsey - hellsbelle@rocketmail.com

In February 1994, I developed tailbone pain with no apparent cause, though x-rays did show a gap in the tailbone and some very small nodules on the bone. I had my part of my tailbone removed in May of that year. The surgery took only about 15 minutes--I wasn't even under for much longer than that. The way my orthopedic surgeon explained the partial removal procedure was: the tailbone pain is caused by excessive movement so the bone is removed from the "gap" (where the movement started) down, leaving the remaining, "unoffending" tailbone parts in place. The surgery was very minor, but the recovery long. I had a choice to do three days in the hospital or use the outpatient clinic. I used the outpatient clinic because I was a poor, uninsured grad student at the time. The outpatient clinic was a MISTAKE. You really need three days in the hospital, not because of any post-op risks, but because moving around is so difficult and the surgery can be a bit messy. I strongly encourage anyone considering the surgery to choose a hospital-stay option.

The surgery brought no relief for about the next 2 years. I was not devastated by the lack of results because the doctor had set my expectations appropriately. According to him, only 70% of patients benefit from the surgery, and medical science isn't sure why that is. So, I consider myself only to be unlucky.

I was very surprised to read that the surgery isn't common, and that people consider it dangerous. It wasn't represented to me that way. Possibly, university doctors perform the surgery more often. (I was treated at a med school) And I've heard that the medical census of the state of Florida (US) reports we have a lot more sports injuries. We can play outdoor sports year around, so we have more injuries than other states, among both local residents and tourists, especially tourists.

By 1996, I began to feel a bit better and could finally get more than 6 working hours out of a day, on a good day. I have personally tried every single therapy imaginable. I have to agree with the medical research that no treatment may well be as effective as any single method. Still, I personally take an aggressive position in looking for relief, pursuing whatever options are available. Except for the cost, it usually does no harm either to try to be one of people who is helped by (insert therapeutic remedy name here).

As I've gotten older and developed some very minor arthritis in my hands, the hands have become a good predictor of my most severe bouts of tailbone pain. In retrospect, I am surprised the doctors didn't try me on arthritis drugs before doing the surgery since I have a family history for arthritis. That is something you might look into if your family profile suggests arthritis.

Five years later, I don't feel that my surgery was dangerous, or that it was a total failure in spite of the continuing pain.

Updated 1999-03-13

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