Wellington, NEW ZEALAND, 2 months post-Coccygectomy, doing OK

Fiona - wgtnfiona@hotmail.com

Posted 2010-

Hi my name is Fiona. I am a naturally thin tall 34 year old female full time Mum from Wellington, New Zealand who is generally healthy. The short story is that I injured my coccyx 2 years ago which resulted in a bent and mobile and very sore coccyx. Had many treatments but only cortisone injections brought some initial relief. 2 months ago I had a Coccygectomy and the mobile half was removed. I still don't know if it was a success or not, if it is then I'll post my Surgeons name later. The recovery has been pretty fast and good so far and only had very mild pain, just more uncomfortable than anything else. Thank you Jon for this site and for the support I have received from others I have contacted. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions etc. My first piece of advice is, get help fast don't delay, get a proper diagnosis by an Orthopaedic Surgeon and get an x-ray. My second piece of advice is, if you are a good candidate for surgery (like I was) then go for it, nothing to be scared of, my pain afterwards was very mild, nothing like some of the bad days I had pre op. My long story is below.

OCT 2008: 9 months pregnant, banged tailbone on table when standing up at home. Very sore. Week later baby overdue, was induced, pain free birth with epidural. Forceps necessary, wonder if it made anything worse.

Coccyx pain not severe but constant throbbing and often sharp shooting pains. Walking fine. Had worst sudden pain when standing up from sitting position. Couldn't sit/drive/sleep comfortably so constantly move positions. Cried a lot when I carried/rocked/held/picked up/fed my daughter because of coccyx pain. Got depressed quickly.

GP diagnosed coccydynia, gave Paracetamol, Diclofenac (Voltaren) and Voltaren Emugel (gel in a tube). Tried Physiotherapy for ultrasound treatment, Acupuncture, Osteopath, hot pack, cold pack, U shaped cushion, fish oil, nothing worked at all. Physiotherapist said didn't need x-ray as wouldn't matter what injury was as treatment the same. I now know this is very wrong, you should get an x-ray as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis.

MAY 2009: Finally went back to GP referral for x-ray and Orthopaedic Surgeon. Normal waiting 3 months got lucky in 3 days. We have a Government funded ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) so I could get most treatment for free and some heavily subsidised and you usually go to a private hospital and have very short waiting lists.

X-ray showed tailbone bent inwards more than usual. 10 mins later Orthopaedic Surgeon did local anaesthetic then cortisone injection in the bend. Excruciating! 100% pain free for 20 mins, mild pain for 2 weeks. 100% pain free coccyx for 6 months! Still avoided any exercise.

NOV 2009: Coccydynia back for no reason. Scared of injection again. Tried Voltaren, Physiotherapy, Acupuncture, Codeine, Paracetamol, Norpress for nerve pain (tricyclic antidepressant), nothing worked, felt sick.

FEB 2010: Referral back to Orthopaedic Surgeon, one month shortest wait, got different Orthopaedic Surgeon. Radiologist did CT guided local anaesthetic then cortisone injection again. Look at scan make sure needle in right place. Excruciating! 100% pain free for 10 mins, worst pain ever at night. Moderate pain for 2 weeks.

At 6 week check up, no change in pain, it hadn't worked that time. Orthopaedic Surgeon firstly recommended manual manipulation under general anaesthetic which I declined as I had read enough to realise it doesn't have a high success rate. Then he recommended the Coccygectomy and I said yes I had read all about it. This is a small town and he had only done about 2 in 15 years but it probably wouldn't be different here with any other Surgeon. I would have had it done a few weeks later but had some major issues with ACC. They turned down funding (NZ$10,000) for it as they said my pain was due to the birth, not my previous injury. My Surgeon advised me to appeal as he said I had a good chance of winning.

SEPT 2010: 2 years post injury. I finally won the appeal and funding was approved. 2 weeks later booked into private hospital for surgery and 1 night stay. My husband quit his job to be at home full time to look after me and our 2 year old daughter. He had a short term contract job and couldnt get decent time off.

I had a spinal nerve block as well as a general anaesthetic which was a great choice the Anaesthetist gave me. I'm glad he recommended it. My surgery was at 8 am (90 minutes long) and I woke up around 1 pm after the best sleep I have had in years. Ate a big meal. I was pain free and still nicely paralysed for a few more hours. I think around 3 pm I got up and walked to the toilet and sat down as normal. As I was eating the evening meal the pain started but it wasn't too bad. I panicked and thought it was going to get so much worse so I took every painkiller they offered me through out the night.

Looked at my breakfast, threw up. Had a nap and then went home lying down in the car on my tummy, only 10 min ride. They gave me 3 months worth of Paracetamol, Ibuprofen (anti inflammatories) and Laxol (laxatives). Next couple of days alternated constipation/diahorreah/vomiting and then realised I didn't need any painkillers at all my pain was quite mild (nothing like some of the bad days I had in the last 2 years!). Stayed on a high fibre no white processed food diet for over a month as recommended by Surgeon, which I really did need to do. I still needed the laxatives every now and then though. Never want to see another kiwifruit or prune again.

A few days later I didn't need my husband to help dress or shower me anymore as I could reach my lower legs now and put my own shoes on. Went out for a few long walks. Couldn't sit down at all. Could lie on tummy or side with minimal pain (not back!). Didn't need the raised toilet seat at all so sent it back.

One week post op, walked 2 streets to local GP to have bandage changed by nurse. Looked in mirror. Wound was disappointingly tiny, vertical, about 3 cm long, dissolvable stitches all healed over. Next day I did too much bending tidying up and I knew it had leaked as the big top bandage was see through and it hurt.

Two weeks post op first check up with surgeon, yes wound had burst open a little. No infection. He took all bandages off.

Three week check up and it was healed over again. Didn't have pain 24/7 anymore, sometimes I forgot about it. I could sit for a few minutes on a large cushion to eat a meal. Got sick of standing up at the kitchen bench to eat and also do emails. I could do most things again apart from pick anything up from the floor.

DEC 2010: At 2 month check up recently I told surgeon my main concern was I am still getting sharp pain when standing from sitting and the horrible throbbing pain for a while afterwards, just like pre op. So therefore I don't know if it worked. He said he wasn't sure why I am still getting that exact pain. He was very confident of my diagnosis and also he said during the surgery when he took the mobile half of my tailbone out, he could see it was very wobbly. I will have to wait and see if the pain goes away soon. Don't have to lie down in car now, can sit on my legs for a short trip, just can't drive. Also some tightness when bending over/lifting too much. Husband still at home full time looking after our toddler, and me.

THE FUTURE: Next surgeon check up at 4 months post op, end of Jan 2011. He has sent approval for us to receive a sickness benefit until then at least. I expect by then that I will be OK and my husband can start to look for a job again. I realise that I have had a relatively good recovery so far yet I am a very impatient person, especially after being in pain and feeling unwell for so long. I haven't been for a run or done any sports since before I got pregnant, so that's nearly 3 years now! And one day I would like to have an office job again, and also maybe have another child. I am looking forward to these things at least being realistic choices once again.

Good health to you all, and I promise to post more updates in the future.

Fiona.

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