Just had coccyx excision on July 29, 2008

Audrey

Posted 2008-08-17

I was actually looking around online to find a more accurate time for recovery for the surgery I had just two and a half weeks ago and ended up finding this website. It's a shame I didn't know about this website until now. Like many of the sufferers of coccyx pain on this site, I spent over 3 years with the pain.

It started out in March of 2005 when I had the flu in the second trimester of my pregnancy. I coughed while sitting in bed and felt and heard my tailbone break - I was almost certain of it. I complained to my OB/Gyn but there wasn't much he could do because I was pregnant (can't have x-rays). So, I sat on a donut for the remainder of my pregnancy. The pain after labor was excruciating. I obviously traumatized my tailbone even further during labor, but I tried not to complain too much because I thought I was feeling normal pain that all women feel after vaginal birth. At my 6-week appointment with my OB, I mentioned the pain to him again and he suggested I see a specific physical therapist in town who specialized in women's pelvic area. After 2 visits, she merely told me I needed to do more core exercises to strengthen that area. Both my OB and this PT did internal "checks", and the PT even tried adjusting my tailbone. What's strange is that I actually thought I had a good core. I was doing yoga and pilates regularly, even during pregnancy until I got too big.

I tried a visit to my family doctor, but got nowhere with her. In the meantime, I was continuing with core exercises. And every specialist I saw, I kept saying I swore I broke it. I made an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon I found online. X-rays she took did not reveal much (but later I realize they were bad x-rays). She gave me 2 cortisone injections within a 4-month period, but those did not give much relief.

Like others who experience this, sitting was painful for long periods and especially driving. I sit on a special orthopedic wedge cushion in my car. My lower back hurt like crazy due to trying to sit in ways that wouldn't require me sitting directly on my tailbone. The last chiropractor I saw called this "compensatory pain". Obviously, any kind of desk job almost brought me to tears. I actually quit my job when my baby was 4 months old. But I worked part-time hours for the family business doing accounting which required sitting at a computer for almost 2 days in a row and driving over an hour to get there. I endured this pain because it was income and better than a 40 hr./week job at a desk.

During all of this, I had gone through 3 chiropractors and stopped seeing the orthopedic surgeon. She told me surgery wouldn't guarantee pain alleviation, but if I decided to go through with it that she would require an MRI. I got the MRI done in January 2008, but those came back "normal".

Back up a little to August of 2007. A new chiropractor I found actually helped with the inflammation in my tailbone area, thus helping me manage the pain. I still had pain, but was actually able to take a family trip to Mexico in May of 2008. During the spring however, I met another mom through a group I belonged to called MOPS. She suggested I see her husband, another chiropractor, who would see me about my scoliosis (oh, yeah...I have that problem too). She said my scoliosis could've been the problem in the first place. His x-rays revealed my tailbone cracked at some point and healed but now I had arthritis there. Also, it was bent up and towards the left. He treated me for 15 sessions then suggested surgery because he knew I exhausted all my options. He recommended Dr. Kenneth Pettine in Loveland, CO. Like many orthopedic surgeons, he stopped seeing individuals with tailbone issues but saw me because he is friends wit h this chiropractor who referred me.

So, last month I visited him. He said he had done about 25 other tailbone excisions and they were successful, but infection could be a worry because the incision site is so close to your rectum. He made it sound like I would be recovered in time to start school (I begin a nursing program on August 25th). I had surgery on Tuesday evening, July 29th. Not only did he remove my coccyx, but he "fixed" my sacrum too, which was bent to the left as well.

The first week after surgery was horribly painful. I could barely move, walk, or even sit on the toilet without shaking in pain. The constipation and pressure makes the pain worse. I tried all kinds of laxatives, and even an enema. But, milk of magnesia finally relieved me after 4 days of constipation. You cannot bathe the first week (but a sponge bath). I had my staples removed from the incision the following Thursday, but Dr. Pettine did not even ask to see me again nor did he even look at my incision, so I thought he was just super confident that I was going to be just fine. It was his nurse who pulled my staples out. My husband drove me, but I had to lay on my side in the passenger seat while holding my weight up with my elbow on the console.

Today is Friday, August 15th...my 5-year wedding anniversary. I woke up crying because I wanted so much to wake up to no or very little pain so that my husband and I could at least go to a nice dinner tonight. I am about 80% bedridden still because I find if I walk around too much or sit on a donut too long I am very sore the next day. I still have to stand at the kitchen island to eat my meals or bend at the knees at bedside (as I am right now writing this on my laptop).

I am still taking some vicodin and finished off my percocet. I use ambien to help me sleep through some of the pain. I started taking bromelain last Saturday so I could wean off some of the painkillers and help heal my body naturally.

For those of you that decide to have this surgery, make sure you have at least a month recovery time from any outside activities. Equip yourself with lots of movies and/or books to pass the time. It helps to have a comfortable bed with lots of pillows because you can only lay on your sides. A pillow between the legs help. Ask for help, especially if you have children, for meals, sponge bathing, and bandage replacement. After having a bowel movement, dab with toilet paper and use "sensitive" baby wipes. For women, take cranberry pills to avoid urinary tract infections.

I decided to have this surgery because I wanted to have my quality of life back. No one should have to live in pain if they can help it. I still have healing time ahead of me, but I'm faithful that I'll be happy when I no longer feel pain from sitting down.

I will keep you all posted as my recovery continues. Does anyone who has actually had this surgery have a better idea of how long recovery is? I am thinking about calling my orthopedic surgeon on Monday. I have a feeling my recovery is taking longer because my sacrum was also adjusted during my operation and my ligaments aren't happy right now. Needless to say, as a busy body, this is hell having to recover in bed this long. I'm glad to have the Olympics to watch. This is definitely one of the most frustrating and challenging things I've ever had to deal with in my life.

Audrey

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