Operation turned chronic discomfort into pain - now had coccyx removed

Donna - justajerzeegirl@yahoo.com

Original posting, 2005-02-20:

First, thank you Jon for creating this invaluable website.

I had my first painful coccyx symptoms after my first son (8 pounds) was born in 1983. It was a traumatic/emergency vaginal delivery & I was in the hospital for almost a week. My Ob-Gyn told me my tailbone was probably bruised & it would heal. After a month or so, the pain passed and I didn't think about again.

I delivered my 2nd son in 1988. He was a little 6 pound baby born in an easy, uneventful delivery. So I was shocked when the coccyx pain returned. Assuming it would heal again, as before, I did my best to work around it.

Three months later there was no improvement, and it was much worse than the first time. I went to my local orthopedic group. X-rays showed a fracture ... the doctor's diagnosis was that the coccyx was probably slightly fractured from the first delivery and the pressure of the second birth worsened the injury. I was told surgery was not done in these cases. I was given anti-inflammatory meds (which I took for about 6-12 months) & told to soak in very hot baths 20 minutes at a time, several times a day (impossible with a baby). I proceeded to begin sitting on a "donut" and continue to suffer for years.

At some point the pain became chronic discomfort that I learned to live with it. I adjusted my activities accordingly. Around the mid 90's, I decided to seek a new opinion from another orthopedic group. Surely, in ten years some new technology must have come along to help me. Unfortunately no. Pretty much the same answer...surgery was occasionally done, but only in severe cases where there was bowel dysfunction, pain with sex, or walking problems. Wow! Since I had none of those problems, thank goodness, I counted myself lucky amongst the other poor coccyx sufferers out there, and left the office thinking there are worse things than not being able to sit.

In late 2002, I needed to have an ovary removed. A 45 minute same-day surgical procedure. Everything went smoothly, but when I woke up from anesthesia, I had an all too familiar pain. We could only figure out that the position I was placed in for this gynecological procedure put pressure on my coccyx in such a way that it re-injured, or at least inflamed the area once again.

The chronic discomfort returned to pain. I tried everything I knew again, and went to yet another orthopedic doctor. He suggested a cortisone shot. No one ever had suggested that before, so of course I had it done. After a few weeks of "injection" discomfort, I had about 75% relief in my coccyx area. Wonderful but temporary. Six weeks later the pain returned 100%.

In December, I found coccyx.org. THANK YOU, JON! I found a recommended surgeon in my state of NJ, Dr. Seth Kane (See Doctors and specialists in the USA). I spoke via email to several of his patients, who were wonderful and supportive. I had a consultation with him in January, and he did a coccygectomy on February 3, 2005.

Update, 2005-02-15

I am 12 days post-surgery, and doing great. I had a very positive surgical experience, and I, of course, now wish I had had it sooner. Dr. Kane does this procedure as a same-day surgery. He injected me with a local at the end of the procedure, so I had no problem getting home & sleeping fairly well through the night. I took the pain medication for the first few days and showered and removed the bandage on the 3rd day. Unlike the photos I have seen, I had no bruising or swelling. I was able to walk right away and do much more than I anticipated. I will have my stitches removed on Friday & will update again soon.

Update, 2005-03-27

I am now 6 weeks post-op and saw my orthopedic doctor yesterday for a follow-up. Before surgery, Dr. Kane said to expect at least 4-6 weeks for general recovery. And 3-4 months for total healing. I seem to be on track.

At 3 weeks, I had a bit of a setback- I think I was doing too much sitting (at the computer) and I had increased pain especially at night. So for a few days, I really babied myself: I stopped all attempts to sit, used icepacks, & consistently took ibuprofen every 6 hours. I felt much better after a few days again.

Now at 6 weeks, walking, standing, bending & sleeping are no problem, but sitting is definitely not comfortable yet. I can "sit" on certain chairs for about15 minutes- drive in the car for about the same length of time- but that's it; I feel a gnawing pressure/ache if I sit too much. Luckily, I do not return to work for a few more weeks, and I can give my body more time to heal. It is frustrating, but time & patience in required with this type of surgery.

What does unexpectedly hurt is my upper back. Sleeping in odd postions, twisting my torso in odd ways for so many weeks avoiding putting pressure on the tailbone area, seems to have aggravated a somewhat arthritic spine. For this, Dr. Kane is sending me for a few weeks of physical therapy, which should help my overall recovery.

So far, I consider my surgery a success- I have had no trauma (infection, nerve involvement, etc) like some others have described in their stories. I am definitely "on the mend".

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