After trying many treatments, an unusual manual therapy cured the pain

Julie jams007b@hotmail.com

Dear Jon,

I found your web site a few months ago when I was in the midst of an extremely frightening and painful bout with a painful tailbone. I am writing to you with a story of healing, and the events that lead up to it... as I think your web site could use such information.

Briefly, my problem began about September of 1999 for no apparent reason. I was doing a "temp" job where I sat sedentary for the whole day in front of a computer. Although I was aware that the chair I was sitting in was pretty horrible, since I was only at the job temporarily, I didn't want to make a fuss. At any rate, by the end of the day I started to notice that my tailbone was numb. To make a long story short, as each week passed the problem got worse until eventually it was painful to sit. Consequently, as soon as I was able, I either stood or laid down, in order to take the pressure of the tailbone by sitting. After about 6 weeks of laying on my couch in the evening, I could no longer lay on my back. So I started laying on my side, but soon that was uncomfortable as well as I felt this tremendous pressure around my tailbone and lower back area/rear end. All during this time I kept going to my doctor for relief. My doctor performed numerous test, x-rays, etc... but finally told me she had absolutely no idea what was wrong with me, or what to do with me other than refer me to an orthopedic surgeon to possibly have the tailbone removed. This frightened me tremendously so I started to do research on this apparently rare problem. I found your web site, and one other, and quite frankly, after reading some of the messages posted, I was even more terrified than before. After seeing an orthopedic surgeon, who advised me strongly against even considering surgery to remove the tailbone (he said I would probably be worse after surgery), I began a quest to heal myself and find answers to this puzzling and painful condition.

I tried acupuncture, which gave me some help in coping with the pain, but did not heal the condition. I tried chiropractors, which did nothing. I tried a chiropractor who specialized in Active Release Therapy (ART) which helped a bit with the feeling of pressure and inflammation, but did nothing to help the underlying problem - sore, painful tailbone! I tried Reiki. I tried massage. I tried myofacial release. You name it, I tried it. I was absolutely desperate to get better. Finally, just before Christmas of 2000, and about 17 months after the nightmare began, I happened to be at acupuncture one evening when a lady waiting in the lobby asked me if she could catch a ride back downtown with me. It was a snowy night and she was unable to get a cab. Since it was on my way I said sure. This was a fateful moment for me, although I did not realize it at the time.

On our ride back into the downtown core of our city, we chatted. She casually asked me why I was going to acupuncture. Not wanting to get into detail about having a sore tailbone, I simply said I had been having back problems and was hoping acupuncture would help. She began asking me numerous questions about the nature of my problem, and when I seemed a bit taken aback, she explained that she too had suffered for years with back problems until she found someone who did "Manual Therapy". I had never heard of this therapy but she briefly explained it as an old, old therapy that is based on the concept that if your skeleton, not just your spine, but your shoulders, rib cage, hips and spine are not straight and balanced, it can create havoc with your body. Since I had literally tried everything else I could possibly think of, and was getting more and more frightened and desperate... I asked for the name and phone number of this therapist.

I called the therapist immediately upon returning from a brief Christmas vacation. She works out of her home and is flexible in seeing patients in the evening or on the weekend. I went to see her a couple of days later on a Wednesday evening. She elaborated a bit on the therapy and told me it was developed by a Dr. Hess in the 1920's. He learned the principles of it from another elderly doctor at that time, so in fact, one could assume it originated in the 1800's. At any rate, the therapist herself had visited Dr. Hess about 20 years ago (say around 1982) when she herself was in desperate condition with a back and neck problem of her own. Indeed she was in such bad shape, she had to drop out of college as she was unable to cope. Dr. Hess helped her to return to normal and, well to make a long story short, he ended up taking her on as a student and taught her "Manual Therapy". Manual Therapy is indeed based on the premise that our skeleton must be in alignment and balanced, or our health will suffer as a result. When I explained my problem to the therapist, she was very low key but quietly said she thought she could help me. She asked two things of me. The first one was to commit to seeing her for at least four visits. The second was to stop all other forms of therapy. In other words, not to go to acupuncture, or massage, or the chiropractor. This way she would be able to tell if her therapy was helping me.

The therapy sessions themselves last one to one and a half hours each. She charges $40 Canadian per session and visit are usually one week to 10 days apart. You lay on a table, fully clothed, much like you would for a massage or a chiropractor visit and she assesses how "even" you are. She immediately told me that I had a twist in my hips and a bad twist in my shoulders. The therapy is hard to describe, but only consists of her gently pushing on a hip, or your rib cage, or your shoulder. I know it sounds strange. When I was driving home after the first visit I shook my head and thought "well here I go on another desperate wild goose chase". I felt no different after the first visit. I felt no different after the second visit. However, when I was driving home from the third visit, I felt "different". It's hard to describe, because it was subtle, but I just felt straighter. The next day I noticed that in fact I did feel better. My tailbone was far less painful and I was in less discomfort. As well, I could feel sort of a flickering-fluttering-pulsing sensation in my tailbone area -- like blood and oxygen was finally getting to an area that hadn't had it for a very long time. After my fourth visit, I couldn't believe how good I felt. I just had my fifth visit and I feel almost completely normal. This is in 5 weeks! In fact, the therapist feels that with perhaps one more visit I should be "right as rain". Then it is her suggestion to only come see her if I am having a problem or feel out of alignment. She felt if I practiced the posture she coached me on and followed the stretching she recommended, I would only have to see her once or twice a year. Obviously, this woman is not in it for the money. She simply wants to help people.

Anyhow, that's the short version of a long journey. However, if felt strongly that there needed to be a voice of "HOPE" for those of you that are suffering from a painful tailbone and see no cure/hope/light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps once you've read my story, you may feel this is something you want to find out about. If so, please e-mail me and I will be happy to give you more information if I can.

Take care and hope you're all better soon!

Updated 2001-02-24

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