Ray of hope


I've been battling tailbone pain for 10 months, after a college basketball career with many falls but no pain. I am writing to describe the lessons I have learned.

I ran into this site a few months ago and a lot of what I read here proved to be true one way or another. In a matter of three months I've gone through two doctors who were convinced I was making this pain up. So I am about to move on to the third doctor. With or without a believing doctor during these 10 months I've discovered ways to diminish the pain, cope with it and I am getting close to understanding my pain.

Two weeks ago I printed information from this site and gave it to my doctor. After a few months of poking and probing and no suggestions from my doctor I was about to see him again. Two days before my appointment I decided that I was going to make an informed suggestion to him, and depending on how he was going to take it I was going to stay or go. Before I went to see him I prepared a speech. I went in, gave him the piece of paper and told him a co-worker (an MD himself) suggested I take Vioxx. The doctor said "your x-rays don't show anything so you don't need an anti-inflammatory." I insisted that I have to "try something, anything that's not a narcotic!", and he insisted on his idea that I have a psychological problem.

I knew I wasn't going to go back to him but I walked away with two prescriptions. One for nortriptyline (tri-cyclic anti-depressant, usually prescribed in small dosages for chronic pain) and one for Vioxx. Within an hour of the first Vioxx my pain diminished greatly. By the second day I didn't have pain anymore. By the end of the first week I had some pain after sitting for long periods of time (still using a special cushion). Today, two weeks later, some pain is here again, mostly because my job as a mental illness and substance abuse therapist requires that I sit a lot.

I still have a ways to go but I am determined to win. I have learned that my pain is the result of constant inflammation around the tailbone. Vioxx, as a very effective NSAI takes down the inflammation, diminishes the pain, and some days wipes it off completely.

The anti-depressant helps me cope with the stress of constant pain. Stress increases my pain. Depressants, such as alcohol increase the pain. PMS also increases the pain.

Diminished pain lets me forget to protect the affected area, which at its turn causes more inflammation and more pain. So I have learned to not take pain relief for granted. I try to get up every 15-30 minutes when I can, and to always use a cushion (at first my fiance threatened to call me at work every 15 minutes to make sure I get up... ). I also practice proper sitting exercises, as taught by a yogi.

While sitting during yoga I realized that I didn't have pain, because I was actually placing most weight on my sitting bones (try sitting in a chair and press your tailbone back until your lower back curves and your tummy feels like it's about to sink between your legs). I realized that my pelvis and hips are not flexible enough to naturally sit like that in a chair. When I sit I put most of my weight back on my tailbone. Yoga helps me increase flexibility so that I can naturally sit with my body weight placed forward on my sitting bones, rather than on the tailbone. Yoga also helps strengthen and relax the back muscles, which naturally results in a better positioning of the body in standing and sitting.

With diminished pain I can tell exactly where the pain is and how it feels. I am sure I know the exact spots where it hurts.

I carry my cushion around, and I make light of it. My co-workers joke with me when I misplace it and have to ask them, "have you seen my butt cushion?" I should probably get their signatures on it just as one would get on a cast.

So far I have been treating the symptoms and not the original problem (the inflammation on the tailbone is both a problem and a symptom of the original problem). So I am changing doctors again. I am still looking for the one who will believe that I feel pain and I am not making it up.

Thanks to this site and the people who shared their stories I had the tools to take control of my problem, especially when my doctor didn't cooperate.

The battle doesn't end here and I will fight it to the end. In my profession I learned that every drug therapy has a life-span of about 5 years, and then something more promising comes along. Considering that there is a large number of possible therapies, each 5 year cycle can start tomorrow, and another the day after, the month after, the year after. All we have to do is find those therapies, and not get discouraged, because another cycle might start tomorrow.

Updated 2003-04-13

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