Coccyx pain and surgery

Mark W - markwinter01@hotmail.com

Original posting, 2005-02-13:

Coccyx pain

My name is Mark, and I am 34 years old and live near Ipswich, Suffolk, UK. I do no know how I hurt my coccyx. My consultant told me that 'doing nothing' was common in someone as slightly built as me! (10 stone (63 kg) and 5'10" (1.78 m)). My problems started around Jan 2004 when I would often have a numb bum after sitting for more than an hour or so, and from April 2004 it progressed to a sharp pain when going from sitting to standing. The coccyx was also very exquisitely tender to the touch.

During October 2004 I had crippling pains when walking. I was told by my orthopaedic specialist that this was due to the coccyx 'wagging' when walking, and 'rubbing against nerves'. From this point I was unable to walk more than a few yards a day, and was pretty much bed-ridden. I have not read this symptom on your site?

I had the usual diagnosis of x-rays and MRI, and had the following treatment - NSAIDS, 3 steroid injections (one with an MUA - manipulation under general anaesthetic). I tried to get a 'stand up/sit down' dynamic x-ray, but the Ipswich hospital does not have this facility and would not refer me to a hospital that did.

It was agreed with my surgeon that he would perform a coccygectomy on 31 January 2005. The risks were:

  1. infection
  2. rectum damage
  3. it may not actually work and could actually make things worse

However as I had not walked for 4 months or sat properly for 10 months, I could not see how things could be a great deal worse. My surgeon had performed about half a dozen coccygectomies in about 10 years. He was one of the areas top surgeons and was very well respected and I had complete faith in him.

My recent surgery

I had my coccyx removed on 31st January 2005, and by the next day I was better before the operation than before it. I could walk! The constant crippling pain under my bottom whenever I moved had gone. Apart from a shot of morphine after the operation for the next two days I was only prescribed paracetomol. I wanted more but was not allowed. However since leaving hospital on the 2nd February I have not used any painkillers.

The area where my coccyx used to be is extremely swollen and bruised, as one would expect. Eleven days after the operation I still cannot lie on my back, but as I could not before the operation this is not a great inconvenience as things are getting better each day, as the swelling and bruising reduce.

My stitches were removed after 8 days. This was very unpleasant, but the positive is that I had my first bath. The hospital strongly discouraged me from having a salt bath as it can irritate the wound. The stitches were itching a lot and felt very tight restricting my movement.

I walked about 100 meters each day for the first few days, and managed to walk just over 2 miles on the 10th day after the operation. I also tried sitting after 10 days and it's sore, but I think, and hope, this is just the wound hurting. It's definitely a different pain than before the operation.

I am extremely glad that I had my coccyx removed. Before the operation I was taking the maximum doses of Zydol (between codeine and morphine), paracetomol, and iboprufen. And just days after the operation I was taking nothing. The next stage is sitting down un-aided, without any of the bodges I have been used to. Such as special coccyx cushions, sitting on only one cheek, sitting in the middle of two chairs, or sitting on books or my hands. It will also be so nice to not get strange looks when I'm the only one standing up with a million seats vacant, or having to explain about my coccyx pain all over again.

Update, 2005-05-15:

I had a coccygectomy on 31 Jan 2005, and three months later the results are excellent, far better than I could ever have envisaged.

My pain first started around April 2004. It began with pain when I went from the sitting to standing position. It gradually got worse so that the coccyx moved when I walked, and every time it moved it hit the nerve. I was bed ridden for some months.

Three months later I can pretty much sit anywhere, and for as long as I need to - so long as I use my coccyx cushion. I can also walk as far as I want, and can do short periods of exercise without discomfort. I haven't tried to push the exercise though.

The area where my coccyx was is still very swollen, but I can only detect this swelling when I sit without my cushion. It feels like I'm sitting on something all the time. It does not hurt, but just feels odd. I can poke and prod the 'ex' coccyx area as hard as I like, but cannot feel any pain at all.

I returned to work after about 2 months. I started doing half days at first and built myself up to full time within a couple of weeks. It was not the sitting that was the issue, it was because I felt weak after being bed-ridden for four months, and needed to build my strength up.

I saw a consultant (frustratingly not the surgeon) after 7 weeks and he told me the swelling and pain should reduce to a 'good enough level to get on with my life' within 6 months, and the pain and swelling should continue to reduce for up to 2 years! He also said I would get the occasional flare up, and not to worry if I did.

One point I would like to highlight is that the consensus of opinion is that if the injections provide no relief, then the operation will probably not work. Well, my injections did not reduce the pain at all, and my coccygectomy was successful.

I have also taken high strength 'glucosamine sulphate' and 'cod liver oil with omega 3' since my operation. I have no idea whether these have contributed to the recovery, but I continue to take them.

I wish my swelling would totally go, and also that I can eventually sit without one of my many coccyx cushions. I found the same relief with cushions costing 30, and ones that I have made myself costing less that 4.

I wish everyone good luck in what ever they decide to do to rid themself of coccydynia. My surgeon was Mr Sharp who covers the whole of East Anglia in England (See List of doctors and specialists in the UK (Suffolk)). Please feel free to contact me for questions or advice (so many of you have already).

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