I feel like I've had my butt kicked in Texas

Tony - tonydarl@flash.net

Link to update 2001-08-05

My name is Tony and I live in Dallas, Texas. I developed my coccyx problem about 2 years ago sitting awkward in my chair in front of my computer. I am 46 years old and in decent, physical shape. Never been under the knife, which makes it even more terrifying now that my wife and I are expecting our second child near the end of September. I am in a dilemma.

My first orthopedic doctor gave me three cortisone shots which helped for a while, but the pain came back. He said that he did not know if coccyx has a function, kind of like an appendix, and that he had not done any coccygectomy, but if I wanted he would take it out. I went for a second opinion.

My second doctor who is a reputable doctor in the Dallas area, so I been told, took some x-rays which again did not show much. He examined me briefly and laid out my options, 1) Referral to a pain management clinic, receive some shots, cortisone, Ganglion Impar Block and if they don't work, basically learn to live with it. 2) Remove it, but it is not a common operation. He has done 7 since he became a surgeon 7 years ago, 4 of which thought it was the best thing they had done. The other 3 thought they did not get any relief but not worse either. Recovery is about 2 months, he said.

I am scheduled to see him in a week which I would like to recommend anything possible, sit/stand x-ray, MRI to focus on the coccyx area etc to actually see what is wrong. I will also ask him to let me speak with some of his former patients. The pain clinic is also trying to justify a Ganglion Impar Block injection in the back of my coccyx while my feet are up in the air at their own facility. Not a pretty picture.

I am inches away to get the darned thing removed. I drive a full size Dodge truck (bench seats, it hurts to drive my wife's car) to work about one hour each way. Work 8 hours primarily sitting at my desk and I can even take 2 months off work/normal life for surgery. But that's about it. The success rate for this surgery, in my view, is a relative term. You have been getting better for almost 2 years. Compared to what you were going through before the surgery, that is a successful recovery. My understanding of recovery period on the scale of 1 to 5, 5 being worst is broken down into "three days of 5, two weeks of 4, two weeks of 3, four weeks of 2 and finally four months of 1". You know the saying, "if it doesn't have numbers and pictures, engineers don't understand it".

Being a civil engineer, despite what my first doctor said, I think the coccyx functions as a reinforcing structure to hold the ligaments in an area where it is subject to spreading/tension. Not much of a structure, however, if it is damaged and causing pain. Often removal of such structures would work better with minor life compromises. We have to expect a fairly long recovery period considering we are removing a bone-structure of approximately 1X1X2 inch. The surrounding ligaments would have to be stretched to fill that empty space. What is puzzling to me is that those who have had partial removal of their coccyx did not do any better.

I have only found one (Anon 7) person that has had the success I am hoping to get. If there is anybody else that has had the surgery with similar recovery period (2 months), please email me at tonydarl@flash.net on this site. I have had the pleasure of speaking with Adele and Greg of this site which helped a lot and they are going to refer me to some of those people that have had speedy recovery.

Update from Tony, in reply to an email direct to him. The email was from a man saying he had had part of his coccyx removed a year ago, with no success. A different doctor had now told him that he had permanent nerve damage. He asked Tony what he had decided.

I am sorry about your nerve damage. If there is any consolation, I am in the same shape as you without the surgery. Can't sit any more than 30-45 minutes without getting up for a while.

I did more tests, bone scan, sit/stand x-ray, nothing showed up, said my ortho. He suggested prolotheropy which is injection of some chemical solution in the tail. I checked Jon's web site and got scared about it. I went ahead and saw the doctor to whom I was referred to and he gave me some literature to read to help me make a decision. I haven't read them yet. I don't think that I am going through with it because he said it will strengthen the ligament and won't do anything for a sharp tail bone stabbing the ligament. So I have narrowed my choices to :

  1. live with it
  2. get a permanent nerve block
  3. take the darn thing out.

At this point my wife is 7 months pregnant and I want to be there when our daughter is born and wait until she passes the infancy hurdles, about a year if I can take it.

You can find some good reading materials about "nerve blocks" on the site. I have the luxury of being close to the brother and sister doctors in Plano, Texas that have had success with that. Cori from the web site was contemplating to have it done by them. He was supposed to call me to talk about it. If he does, I let you know. Better yet I'll copy this email to him and to Jon in case he wants to post it. Hope you don't have a problem with that. Nobody knows what's good for us but ourselves. If you are one of those people that have had an unsuccessful partial removal (so far) you ought to share the details with the site for your and other's benefit.

Updated 2001-08-05

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