Pain has not gone away for three years

Karen - karenv@sszblaw.com

Posted 2007-05-13

I am in my mid-50's and have 3 grown children, so I therefore can't necessarily attribute my tailbone pain on recent childbirth. I have been suffering with this for the last 3 years. I went to the orthopedist who took an x-ray, saw nothing and then told me to get a cushion to sit on. After about 3 months and no relief (cushion was worthless!), he did a bone scan which, again showed nothing. At that point, he seemed disinterested with my ailment.

My OB/GYN referred me for physical therapy twice and I did have some relief, but NEVER has the pain gone away. I would say on some days I would say on a scale of 1-10, I am 8-9. In other words, I am miserable! I have a very sensitive stomach, so therefore I don't take any meds to relief my pain. I sit at a computer all day, and in the evening I shift from cheek to cheek trying to have some degree of comfort. The tailbone itself is sore, and I also seem to have some type of sensation of tingling, burning, stinging in the area surrounding the area into my back and butt. I do have rectal spasms, which I had BEFORE this started.

The only trauma to my tailbone was when I missed the step on the ladder and hit the wall behind me - right in that area. Would you suggest an MRI? The orthopedist I went to was of NO help. Any suggestions or help would be soooo appreciated!

Reply from Anne - awheeler586@comcast.net

Posted 2007-05-20

Karen

Like you, I did not fit the description of someone with tailbone issues. I was 43 when the pain started. I am now almost 46. My son was 13 at the time and I had no falls or injuries to make me think I did something to my tailbone. My pain varied based on what I was doing. I sit at a desk eight to ten hours a day plus driving, eating dinner, etc. Below is a summary of the types of pains I was experiencing. I don't know if they are anything like yours if my story can help you at all.

Pain 1 - Sitting for long periods. It felt like I had a hot poker shoved you know where. On a scale of one to ten, it probably ran as a four or five. Friday's were worse than Mondays. Sitting in bumper to bumper traffic with my foot on the brake would probably make the pain go to a six or seven.

Pain 2 - Standing after sitting. Upon rising and for a few minutes after, it felt like my tailbone area was being split in half vertically. Probably a pain level of eight or nine. I did not scream out loud, but my husband said my facial expressions made it look like I was in excruciating pain. Getting out of the car was the worst.

Pain 3 - Laying in bed, standing, walking, etc. Felt like my whole anal area was bruised. There was never a time I was not at least aware of my backside. When I had a week or two off of work, the pain would diminish, but I always felt like I had a mild bruising. That pain level would be a one to a three depending on how long it had been since I was sitting.

At first I assumed I had Hemorrhoids as I had no recent falls or injuries and the pain seemed to be rectal to me. Using over the counter Hemorrhoid creams did nothing. I thought I was someone who Hemorrhoids without bleeding. I tried this home therapy at the end of 2005.

I live in metro Detroit and have access to many doctors, so that was not an issue for me. Where do you live Karen? Is access to specialists difficult? This website has many doctors listed that may be able to provide you relief.

When I went to my family doctor in early 2006, she immediately diagnosed me with coccygodynia based on my symptoms. She ordered an x-ray which showed no injury. She suggested I sit on a tush cush. She thought it was probably bruised and would heal itself if I sat on the cushion. I tried that for about eight weeks in early 2006 with no progress. She referred me to an orthopedist. He did another x-ray (nothing visible) and sent me to the pain center for the injections under fluoroscope. I only received about a week's worth of pain relief and shots were expensive. He then referred me for an MRI and to a surgeon for consult. The MRI revealed nothing and the surgeon was willing to perform the surgery, but I was not willing to undergo surgery with no proof that I h ad a tailbone problem.

After that I had a colonoscopy to rule out any cancer problems such as a tumor or polyp I was sitting on that might have caused pressure/pain.

I tried five acupuncture treatments with no success. By the way, acupuncture has cured many of my allergies. I am a great believer in acupuncture.

I had come across this website, but not at the very beginning of my problems. After no answers in site, except for surgery, I decided to spend more time reading Jon's website.

I took the sit/stand x-ray article to my orthopedist. He immediately ordered the x-ray and it showed my tailbone was definitely "out of whack for lack:" of a better description. Sitting looked totally different than standing or laying. He then sent me back to the surgeon as he indicated that there was nothing he could do me as he was not a surgeon

In March or April of this year, I went back to see Dr. Bartol and he reviewed the new x-ray. Dr. Bartol told me that removal of my tailbone were odds of 95% that I would get relief after the surgery. I had the surgery a week ago today (May 8) at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. The bottom two sections of my tailbone were unstable and were removed and there were two bone fragments removed. After finding the bone fragments, he told my husband is even more confident of my recovery. I am keeping a diary and will post my story within a few weeks. So far my recovery is going well. I saw Dr. Bartol yesterday and he said the wound is healing well.

Karen - Back to your question on the website, what would people recommend? Based on how my story turned out and if your pains are similar to what I listed above, I would suggest the sit/stand x-ray that Jon has documented so well in this article. Without that x-ray's results I probably would not have considered this surgery. It sounds like you are not having success with your orthopedist. Based on my outcome and what I know now, I would try the following in the following order. Your primary care doctor could probably order the following and keep your orthopedist out of the picture for now.

* Sit/Stand x-ray

* Colonoscopy if you have not recently or ever had one. The pain management doctor who provided me the injections lectured me for not having had a colonoscopy even though I was only 44 at the time. His brother happened to be a gastro doctor and had told him of cases that were believed to be coccygodynia were really related to other colon/cancer problems.

* MRI

If those three suggestions don't provide any answers, I would look for a new orthopedist or look for a surgeon on this website. My orthopedist was only too happy to order the sit/stand x-ray. He was just as baffled by my pain as I was and was willing to try anything that sounded reasonable.

Hopefully you get some suggestions that provide you relief.

This website is a remarkable way to share problems and solutions. Thank you Jon for running it.

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