Suffered with coccyx pain for about 15 years

Michael O'Connor - mickoconnor@blueinc.co.uk

Posted 201304-21

I am a fit 58 year old male and I have suffered with Coccyx pain for about 15 years with the pain getting progressively worse.

I believe the underlying problem began around 1985 when stepped off of a step ladder whilst decorating, as my foot touched the floor I lost my balance and fell backwards hitting my coccyx on the edge of a chair. I immediately had severe pain and attended my local hospital that same day where I had an X-Ray. I was advised that I have bruised the bone and that it would get better in time.

The area was very painful for about 6 months, getting in and out of a car seat being the most painful. In time the pain passed and I completely forgot about the pain for many years. In fact over the next 5 years or so I regularly ran on the roads some 60 to 80 miles per week and ran a series of Marathons at a respectful pace of around 2 hours 30 minutes so my lower back was well tested.

In the late 90's I began studying for an MBA with the Open University, this involved long bouts of sitting in a chair working on a PC for several days a week. I began to notice pain in the coccyx region when standing up after these prolonged sitting sessions. My studies continued for around 4 years with the pain getting worse. In 2000 I travelled on an airplane to the Dominican Republic, this was a 10 hour flight, as I took my seat on the aircraft the discomfort was severe and I had 10 hours of hell, shuffling from one buttock to another, it was the same on the return journey.

Over the next few years I began to drive, which was an essential part of my job, with my left foot tucked underneath my backside to effectively take the weight off my coccyx. As a result my posture became very poor and I began to have problem with my general lower back which would go into spasm without notice, following which I would walk around like a 90 year old for a week or so and scream out in the night whenever I tried to turnover.

I finally decided that I could not continue like this any longer and attended a back clinic in Enfield. I went through all of the usual treatments, physiotherapy, internal manipulation, local injections, killing the nerve ends in the region, none of which had any impact whatsoever.

As a last resort before considering the removal of the Coccyx I was referred to a Gynaecologist (yes I am a male and I thought that was odd too) who I was advised had been successful in treating some patients with Coccyx pain. For those that have the condition you know only too well that you would try anything. I saw Heather Soley at Chase Farm Private Hospital, I believe she has since retired. Heather treated me, teaching me 'Pilates' and strengthening my core muscles. The rationale here was that as man developed he lost his tail and the nerve ends tucked underneath and strengthening those would have a support effect on the Coccyx, this is a method used post birth for mothers to regain strength in the core area.

To be honest having tried all of the other potential treatments I was extremely sceptical, however to my surprise I began to get some relief, not only in the Coccyx area but also in my general posture and entire lower back. Over the next few months my coccyx pain, which was at a level of 7 or 8 out of 10, declined to around 3 or 4. As you can imagine I was overjoyed with this result.

This situation continued until October 2010, with the odd episode of increased pain in my general lower back if I tore a muscle, when this occurred I recovered quickly via Pilates stretching exercises. However in October 2010 I was a passenger in a motor vehicle travelling on a Motorway between Liverpool and Manchester when a lorry shed a tyre tred, the car in front of ours swerved into the middle lane and the car I was travelling in broke sharply coming almost to a halt as we got to the tyre. A van travelling behind us fail to break at all and hit us in the rear at 70 MPH.

Our vehicle was shunted forward by the force of the impact some 100 meters beyond the tyre. The driver, myself and another passenger in the vehicle I was in were all taken to hospital suffering from whiplash, minor head injuries from the impact and some general bruising. All three of us had immediate severe headaches. We were all discharged having been treated as outpatients and I travelled home to Essex on a train.

I had an uncomfortable night and the following morning woke with severe pain in the coccyx, it was at a level I had not had for several years. As you can imagine I was somewhat distraught. The pain stayed with me and despite increasing my Pilates exercises the pain remained and did not ease at all, it remained at about a level 8 out of 10. I eventually went back to the specialist in Enfield who advised that all he could do was to remove the Coccyx.

At the same time I was undergoing physiotherapy for the whiplash, the physio treating me knew about my coccyx pain and offered to get me a free session at the British School Of Osteopathy as long as I agreed for students to be in attendance. I agreed to this and had a session where a professor undertook an internal manual manipulation, without any anesthesthetic, with a group of young girl students in attendance. All very painful and embarrassing and with no benefit at all as the pain continued at the same level.

I did not consider removal of the coccyx via my specialist in Enfield, he advised me that he had only ever completed two removals in his career, one had been successful and one had not. These were not odds I was prepared to accept. I was also advised that it is a nasty operation with a high incidence of infection.

I began to research specialist who had an interest in this condition and I discovered your website, I found it very informative, most of all it appeared to me that the choice of specialist was a critical factor. I am thankful every day that as part of my research I came across Dr Jean Yves Maigne and Professor L Doursounian (see Doctors and specialists in France). There are many medical papers written by them that can be found on the web, essentially they have a special interest in the condition. Dr Maigne has developed a method of assessing the likelihood of a successful outcome via Dynamic X-Ray, which are X-Rays taken in the standing an sitting position and determining the way in which the Coccyx moves and or deflects when sitting (see Dynamic (sit/stand) x-ray). Important for me was together Dr Maigne and Professor Doursounian had treated hundred of patients over the last few years and via a controlled post operative care regime had managed post operative infection down from around 30% to Zero.

I visited Paris to see Dr Maigne in January 2012, he examined me and completed dynamic X-Rays the following morning. I had some unusual genetic anomalies, my coccyx was very rigid and close to the surface, both of which made the coccyx more susceptible to impact injury. As a result I was consider a good patient to undergo surgery. For work reasons I decided not to have surgery until October 2012. I travelled to Paris for a pre operation medical on a Friday, travelled back to London on Friday night, then back to Paris on the Sunday where I stayed overnight in a hotel before being admitted on the Monday morning for surgery.

In the months leading up to surgery I began swimming, 3 or 4 times a week and was swimming around 3000 meters a week, I felt this might help me recover from surgery more quickly.

I was concerned about the language difficulties, including the completion of the admission papers but Professor Doursounian was fantastic, even taking me personally to the administration department to ensure all went well. I had my surgery on the Monday morning which went well. The post op care was very good, almost no pain, in fact the most painful part was from my hips caused by lying on my sides for 4 consecutive days. On the 4th day my drips came out and I was told I could get up. I was out of the bed immediately and walked down to the cafe within the hospital and got myself a coffee.

I was discharged on the Friday but was required to stay in Paris for at least another week or so as I needed at least three home visits to check the wound and change the dressing. I hired an apartment a few hundred yards from the hospital and Professor Doursounian visited me personally on each of the three occasions, everything went well and no hint of any infection.

On the Sunday after my discharge, 6 days after surgery I walked with my wife down to the river in Paris and was on my feet for about 2 hours without incident. I was very careful to avoid any knock to my back. I am not sure that Professor Dousounian would have approved of my walk but I felt fine.

I could still not sit so I was not sure if the operation had been a success and if my pain had eased, however just under 2 weeks after surgery I travelled home via Eurostar (I had a private ambulance lined up in case I needed it) and I found the journey fine. Once home I had a further week away from work, then I returned limiting my travel as far as I could.

About 2 weeks after arriving home, which was about 5 weeks after surgery I began driving again. It was around this time that I began to feel that any discomfort I had, which was minimal, was from the wound and not anything else. Within 8 weeks of the operation my discomfort was at about 5% of my pre op pain.

I can honestly say that the whole process was without incident and I wish I had decided to have it done years before. My choice of surgeon was a key factor I believe and I cannot thank Dr Maigne and Professor Dousounian enough.

In January 2013 I began running again, since then I have began some work in the Gym and I have being doing sit ups, something that was completely out of the question before the operation. I am now 100% free from pain from the site of the Coccyx. I am still asked by friends and colleagues how my back is, I am so happy when I realise that I have not even given it any thought for days on end. For those with the condition you will appreciate what a feeling that is, I have lived every minute of every day for some 15 years with pain like a raging toothache, except for the Pilates relief period, suddenly the pain is completely gone.

For those that are suffering and can afford to fund the operation themselves, I highly recommend Dr Maigne and Professor Dousourian. For further information see the following links:

Idiopathic coccygodynia. Lateral roentgenograms in the sitting position and coccygeal discography.

Management of Common Coccydynia

Comments from Dr Jean-Yves Maigne about treatment of coccydynia

Michael O'Connor

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