Nursing and coccydynia

Tania Hughes - cuddlesthebear@telstra.com

My name is Tania Hughes and I'm a 24 year old from Albany, Western Australia, who has been suffering with coccyx pain since October 2000. I only just found the coccyx web site tonight and think it is amazing. I would love to share my experience and hope this could help others in my situation.

I am a nurse and had an accident at work which involved me falling out of a car onto the road landing on my bottom. I saw a doctor 2 days after the accident who just told me I had a bruised coccyx. From October onwards I went about life as usual ignoring the occasional back pain I suffered. Then in April 2001, I finally went and saw a different doctor who made me have an x-ray (sitting/standing) which showed I had deformed my coccyx and fractured the 4th vertebrae of my sacrum. I was pretty devastated with the news. Initially because the first doctor didn't make me have an x-ray but also I had been attending to activities which may have made it worse. But you just have to learn to deal with it.

After the diagnosis my doctor started me on Celebrex and Diclofenac (both anti-inflammatories). These did nothing for me at all. I then tried a chiropractor which also did not help at all. I then tried physio who used ultrasound which made my back so bad I had to take time off work. I tried a TENS machine which only bought a very small amount of relief but not enough that I would recommend it to you. I tried magnetic therapy, don't even bother with that! I took six months off work to see if resting it would help but my symptoms just remained the same. I have also had several x-rays, and an ultrasound, CT scan and an MRI. They just confirmed that my fracture healed but my coccyx is floating around deformed and moving. It also showed the rest of my spine looked good but could not explain my lumbar back pain. The surgeon thinks this is from the initial fall and sitting awkwardly from the coccydynia had probably not helped it. I could sit for around 30 minutes and stand for about the same time before I would start getting major pain.

My doctor then referred me to a spinal orthopaedic surgeon called Dr. Peter Woodland. So far I can only say great things about this man. He has been extremely understanding to me the whole time and always willing to listen to me whinge about my sore back and bum. He first recommended I have a cortisone injection into my old fracture site and give me a low dose epidural to see if it would ease my coccygeal pain. This was performed by a different doctor. I developed an infection after my cortisone injection and became extremely sick and it also made my coccygeal pain worse. I had to take 4 months off work to recover from the infection and taking antibiotics the whole time. I blame the doctor for the infection as the type of infection I got could only have developed through an infected or unsterile needle. I also found this doctor not an incredibly caring man whilst I attempted to sit in his chair in agony he was more concerned that I blemished his record with an infection. By the way, this all happened in February 2002.

I tried swimming which helps ease my back pain and I always have a great sleep that night but the pain always returns the next day.

I don't take pain killers often as being a nurse I see many patients come in with chronic back pain on massive doses of pain killers. Me being only 24, I would hate to know what sort of huge tolerance I would have to pain killers when I am 40 or 60 and possibly still having problems. So I deal with my pain by using a hot water bottle, taking nice long hot showers, avoiding sitting or standing in one spot for prolonged periods and taking a cushion with me where ever I go no matter how many comments and stares I get from other people and laying on my stomach lots as I can't even sleep comfortably on my back now.

The reason I was looking at this web site is because I am booked to have my coccyx removed next week. I have had several very long discussions with Dr. Woodland and I can honestly say he has not pressured me one bit into this decision. This decision was purely made by me and I have no regrets even if it makes things worse. Dr. Woodland on average performs 6 coccygectomies a year because it is such a rare operation. I trust this surgeon because he specially deals with the spine and nothing else and unlike your typical surgeon who just wants to go in, fix it and get out Dr. Woodland has helped me look at every other option before we took this road down to surgery with surgery pretty much being my last option left for my coccydynia. I am pretty nervous about the operation but I think it's more the fact I have never been a patient before and I have always been on "the other side". It would just be great to know how much, if at all, it will relieve some of my pain. I know my lumbar pain will remain after the operation but it would be great to be able to sit comfortably again.

Just remember that every one is different and I have damaged my spine differently to others so treatment that may have been useless for me may be great for other people. The best advice I can give is to keep your spirits up no matter how bad the pain may become. Just remind yourself of all the good things in your life every day and that will always help you through. And if it's a really bad day, just try to sleep it off!

Regards,

Tania Hughes

Updated 2004-06-13

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