Coccyx deviating to the left, treating with physical therapy

Chris, Midwest (USA)

Posted 2009-02-08

I am a 38-year-old female. My tailbone began hurting close to one year ago. I was not aware of any type of trauma to the area that could have brought on the pain (no falls, childbirth, etc). I read in one of the scientific papers linked to on this website that the majority of people reporting tailbone pain are overweight. That is not the case for me (I am 5'5" and 120 lbs), so there are exceptions to this.

I didn't see my physician about it until last month. I probably should have gone in sooner, but I'd hoped the pain would go away on its own. She couldn't see or feel anything when she examined me, and sent me for x-rays the same day. X-rays were taken of the area while I lay on my back and while I lay on my side. The radiologist saw no abnormalities on the x-rays--no fractures, lesions, etc.

The next step my physician recommended was physical therapy. I've had two sessions so far (and will have at least two more) with a very good licensed physical therapist. He determined that my coccyx deviates to the left. He had another P.T. confirm that diagnosis. Both agreed that there was no deviation in other directions (forward or backward). He taught me some exercises which I do at least twice a day, and during our sessions he does some manipulation-type of exercises to attempt to gently push the coccyx back to a normal position. There is a slight amount of pain as he does this, but if it could help the problem, it's definitely worth it. I have noticed some improvement and have high hopes for more, as I've only had two weeks of physical therapy thus far. I will write again to report on continued progress (or lack thereof, but I'm hopeful).

Update, 2009-05-03

I saw a licensed physical therapist for four visits over a two month period. He did some manipulation of my coccyx and taught me exercises to do at home. I felt some - but not significant - improvement. My PT determined that the deviation to the left (diagnosed at my initial visit) had been corrected but that the continued pain suggested that perhaps there was deviation inward as well, so he referred me to another PT who had experience with "internal manipulation" (which has been discussed elsewhere on coccyx.org).

I saw this second PT (Brenda Milbrath, Madison, Wisconsin, see Doctors and specialists in the USA, Wisconsin) for two visits over three weeks. She did the internal manipulation (it hurt only slightly the first time, and hardly at all the second time) twice over a two week period (she didn't order additional x-rays--early x-rays, before starting PT, had found no fractures or lesions--but could tell while doing the internal manipulation that my tailbone did indeed deviate inward). I felt significant improvement after the first session and even more improvement after the second one. My pain when sitting (and especially when getting up from a seated position) at work has improved significantly (maybe by 80%). For now I have stopped PT but will go back if my pain gets worse. I will also continue doing the exercises the PTs taught me.

Update, 2010-01-10

I'm happy to report that I've continued to have little or no pain since my last treatment (April 2009). I continue to do the exercises the physical therapists taught me (I do them about twice a week) and am still about 90% pain-free (and when there is pain, it is very minor). I wasn't sure if I'd need to go back for another "internal manipulation" session, but so far I haven't. I still have an office job where I sit for 30 hours a week and have only occasional, slight pain. I still use the lumbar cushion on my chair which the PT recommended--he felt it might help me sit in a position that is better for my spine and tailbone.

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