Coccyx surgery

Jeff - jbrain29@hotmail.com

My name is Jeff and I am 25 years old. I started having pain in the coccyx while sitting in college 5 years ago. I did not know what caused this pain because I never fell or injured the tailbone area. I went to my primary doctor and he said there was nothing I could do about it. After about a year of pain, I went to a chiropractor who ordered x-rays. He said that my coccyx was longer than usual, and did some lower back adjustments, these did not help. It got to the point that I could not sit down or even lay on my back on a soft bed without feeling pain. This is when I went to a local orthopedic specialist. He ordered a MRI and suggested cortizone shots to the coccyx. I tried the shots about 3 different times and they did give some short-term relief (approximately 1 week) but not long- term. He sent me to another orthopedic specialist at the University of Miami. This doctor prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs and did a CT scan. The anti-inflammatories did nothing for the pain, and the CT scan showed no irregularities.

Finally, after 5 years of pain, and a couple of doctors later, my original orthopedic specialist recommended removal of the coccyx. So I made an appointment with a spinal surgeon at the South Florida Spinal Clinic. When the surgeon looked at my MRI he immediately said that I have an extremely long coccyx, and that I could either live with the pain or have it surgically resected. He said it is a rare, but simple procedure, and that there is an 80% chance of curing the pain. I asked him how many times he has performed this type of surgery, and he said he has done over 4,000 spinal surgeries but only 1 coccyx resection. I was hesitant to go ahead with the surgery because he only has done this once, but he felt and acted very confident, so I decided to have the surgery scheduled. Also, the surgeon advised me that he works in conjunction with a colorectal surgeon when doing this operation due to how close the coccyx is to the rectum. So I made an appointment with the colorectal surgeon who will be present at the surgery. This surgeon verified that I had a long coccyx and told me that he has done a couple of these operations in the past. He said it was simple procedure, but there is a slight chance of infection.

I had the surgery on 2002-04-15 at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I arrived at he hospital at 11 pm, registered and got prepped for surgery, then was wheeled into the waiting room where I met the anesthesiologist. He decided to give me an epidural block instead of putting me totally out, but I slept through the entire procedure anyways. I woke up just when they were finishing. Both surgeons said the surgery went well and that they removed approx. 2.5 inches of bone. My main concern before the surgery was that they would not remove enough bone, hopefully this was sufficient. I was wheeled to my hospital room at about 3 pm, and did not feel any pain. I stayed one night in the hospital and the only problem I had was urinating for the first time after surgery. The IV filled my bladder so much, but my lower organs were not working because of the anesthesia. Finally, at about 7 pm I stood up and slowly walked to the toilet, got very nauseous, then finally urinated. I felt great after going to the bathroom. I had a morphine pump and only had to pump it a couple of times throughout the night because I did not feel much pain at all.

The next morning my spinal surgeon checked in on me and said I can go home today. He said that the colorectal surgeon did most of the surgery and that he just cut and shaved the bone. I left the hospital on 4/16/02 at about 1 pm. I was lying on my side in the backseat of the car for the 30 minute ride home. The pain did start to kick in the night I got home, but the percocets worked very well for the pain. I tried to eat foods high in fiber and I took stool softeners at night because I know the painkillers make you constipated. I was not looking forward to my first bowel movement, it occurred on the 2nd day home after surgery, and surprisingly it was painless. I was able to walk around slowly and even upstairs, but my doctor said not to sit down for 3 weeks. So all I did for the first ten days was watch t.v. while laying on my stomach or my sides, and eat standing up. There was not much pain while standing, but I could only stand for short periods of time because my lower back would give out. I went to my post-op appointment 10 days after surgery and the doctor said everything looked fine and that the stitches will dissolve.

It is now a month after surgery and I can only sit for about 15 minutes at a time on an inflatable ring cushion before it gets too painful. The incision is healing fine and there was no infection, but I just can't sit yet, which is frustrating because I was planning on going back to work soon. I have a desk job and have to sit for about 8 hours a day and also drive a 1/2 hour to work and back, so this is going to be a problem. So far I am happy that I decided to have this rare surgery because there has not been any major problems, and it definitely has not been as painful as I thought it would be. Hopefully the pain when sitting is surgical pain and will eventually heal. I have already noticed that when I lay on my back the pain is less than before the surgery. From reading other personal stories on this web site I realize that I may have a long road to full recovery.

I want to thank Jon for setting up this very informative website, I don't think many doctors or chiropractors know much about this topic at all, so this site really helps. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions and I will update in a month.

Updated 2002-05-19

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