Coccyx wags backwards and forwards

Jane Sampson - jane.sampson@veritas.com

I am now 25 and started having pains around 1989. I went with my mother and saw my local GP in Western Australia about the pains I was having in my coccyx. I informed her that I was getting pains when I sat in L-shaped chairs of an acute angle, as opposed to obtuse, or leaning forward while sitting down for long periods of time. It hurt even more when I tried to get out of the chair. I could feel the pain as I started to lift myself from the chair. When I get into a position of half standing that's when the pain would reach the highest point. I would eventually stop there for about a couple of seconds because I couldn't move without feeling more excruciating pain. Once the pain subsided and I could feel that it wasn't going to hurt anymore that's when I could stand up fully. With this information she said that I would need x-rays to determine the problem.

So during that week I went to the radiology clinic and had an x-ray taken. (I had my mother there with me). I took the x-ray and summary of the results to another GP since she was unavailable. He read out the results and it read "There is an anterior slipping of the coccyx in relation to the lower sacrum. There is incomplete fusion at the anterior aspect of the upper coccygeal segment rather that due to fracture." After reading that summation to me he showed me the x-ray. The point of where the sacrum and the coccyx met there was quite a gap and that's where my coccyx leant/bent forwards as if to sit on it. And looking at it further, there were gaps between each segment in my coccyx, but not as pronounced as the gap between the sacrum & coccyx.

He then proceeded to have me lie down, where he would physically try to move my coccyx. He put his finger in my anus and then push it backwards & forwards and forwards to show/explain to me why it hurts. He then tried to "pull it back" to alleviate pain temporarily. After, that he sat me down with my mother and explained that when I sit down in certain positions I am placing more pressure on my coccyx due to the angle it is already at. And the reasons why it hurts, is when I get up "it wags backwards & forwards". I thought great, I'm deformed. I feel like a dog because I have a true tail that wags. I asked him what would help to stop the pain. He stated there really was nothing that could be done. He said I could get pregnant and that would push my coccyx backwards, to which my mother look absolutely horrified. (As if her daughter at the age of 15 is going to get pregnant to help her butt - I don't think so).

He then said I would just have to be careful of what chairs I sat on. They had to be comfortable and preferably not hard, something with cushioning. He then suggested this cushion filled with air shaped like a doh nut. This cushion when sat on, placed no pressure on the coccyx because you weren't really sitting on it. My coccyx would actually be in line with the whole. So mum decided to buy for me it would this would help me.

I didn't mind this cushion but I found it really embarrassing. It temporarily helped, but you had to inflate it to your comfort. In the end, I gave up on this cushion (I have no idea where it is now). It hasn't hurt since then until recently. And that's because of the couch I'm sitting on at home.

I can understand and live with not having a cure as such for this problem. I was just glad when I first went to a Doctor, that they were able to explain me what was wrong and why it hurt. Now it's up to me to understand & know my own body and work out a pain-management solution.

But, in relation this whole problem I have (which I don't know the name of - if there is a name), I was ecstatic when I found this website. To be able to find other people out there with similar conditions to mine, was a relief. If I tried to explain this to people when they saw the look on my face when I tried to get up from a chair, was very difficult and embarrassing on my behalf.

After reading other people's situations, I don't want to have my coccyx removed since it serves a purpose in my body structure. Also I do not want to have cortisone injection because my pain is not that bad and you can only have so many injections in your lifetime - before side effects start setting in.

This letter does not give a cure and will not help everybody, but hopefully after reading this article you will learn to know your body after the experiences you have been through. From there you know what situations/positions not to get yourself into, so as to alleviate pain in day-to day activity. But, if you are in pain all the time and the only alternative left is radical treatment then, there are a few websites that show summations of research into case studies undertaken on cortisone injection into the spine & removal of the coccyx. Hopefully, these will answer some of the pending questions you have about the treatments.

I would appreciate if anyone could give me any insight into the term for (if any) on "incomplete fusion of the coccygeal segment". On looking through everyone's submitions of their experiences, it seems that most people have experienced pains resulting from a fracture rather than incomplete fusion.

Good luck to everyone, and may the pain subside!

Jane Sampson

My email address if anyone would like to contact me is jane.sampson@veritas.com

[Note from Jon Miles: Jane was diagnosed with "incomplete fusion of the coccygeal segment" and others have been diagnosed with fracture of the coccyx. It seems that both of these diagnoses are usually wrong, and are based on the idea, given in medical textbooks, that the coccyx is normally fused into one piece in adults. This is not true - doctors who have examined uninjured coccyxes have found that they normally consist of two or more pieces. Doctors who do not have experience in this area look at an x-ray of a coccyx of someone in pain, and find that the coccyx is in several pieces, and think that either it has been broken, or it never fused together properly. Also the idea of getting pregnant to reduce coccyx pain is bizarre - pregnancy is often a cause of coccyx pain!]

Updated 2001-06-09

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