My stiff coccyx joints are moving better

Nadia, UK

Posted 2016-11-13

My coccyx pain started about two and a half years ago. I had a period of working where I was sitting on a poor hard stool for long periods of time. I had also slipped in the bathroom in to a sitting position about 8 months prior. I am not sure whether my pain was caused by this fall or the poor posture/stool. Unfortunately I made the mistake of suffering silently, assuming that it might settle or was temporary. I took pain killers for a while. It did not subside. I bought a U-shape type cushion from Amazon, which became my life saver when driving and making long journeys (we have family in Birmingham and London so these long drives are a regular occurrence). I would recommend this cushion, the 'Cushina Memory Foam Coccyx Cushion' and I still use it today. At work I survived by standing most of the time, at home I would sit shifting from one buttock to the next. Cinema trips were over (being a movie lover this is still very hard for me!). At its best, it was an ache when sitting and sharp when getting up. At its worst it was very painful all the time with a burning sensation even while standing. Lying on my back also seemed to aggravate it.

A year later and no better, I had a steroid injection with 'manipulation', the surgeon told me it was good news that my coccyx was not hypermobile (whatever that meant). This felt great for about 2 hours when the anaesthetic was still in my system, but once it had all worn off, I noticed only a mild improvement. About 4-5 months later, I was back to square one anyway. No x-rays were done, they did check my spine with a MRI scan and told me it was all fine.

Another year (and no cinema trips) later I was advised to have another steroid injection. I had been surviving thus far by taking painkillers and rubbing some gel on the area. Perhaps a second injection will finally settle it, they said. Have more hot baths, they advised. Do pelvic floor exercises, they mentioned. There was no difference after this second injection. The referred me to a physiotherapist who also used a laser device, it did not settle the pain at all. I actually felt it always left me with a more burning sensation type pain. By now, as I'm sure almost everyone reading this can appreciate, I was very very down and upset with my situation. No one had given me any answers.

I then found myself on the Sayer Clinics website booking my slot with Dr Durtnall for a few weeks time (see Doctors and specialists in the UK, London). I have to give this a go, I told myself. Living this way for the next 30-40 years scared me. At my first appointment Dr Durtnall took my history and then immediately some x-rays. Within 15 minutes I had the answers to why I was suffering. The shape of my coccyx was stuck in an L shape, due to calcification (very close to fusion) of 1-2 of the joints. Dr Durtnall explained that this could have been due to a fall many years ago, or even from my youth. The shape it is stuck at, also explains why it hurts on lying down (the corner it bends at). I was so relieved to at least know something, when you feel like you have been going insane or imagining it all thus far. He told me that of course my coccyx was not 'hypermobile' as the previous surgeon had mentioned, because it is stiff as a rock! This shows you the lack of knowledge/interest most Doctors have on the coccyx. Dr Durtnall did some manual treatment rectally in the same appointment. At that time, he told me that the joint was very stiff and moving very little, it could be too late for me. Though he reassured me to be hopeful, and that with time he hopes it will loosen. He advised me to never sit on one side ever again and to work hard on my overall posture.

A few days later, I was surprised when my pain was about 20-30% better. Amazed, in fact. I have now had 4 appointments at an average of two weeks apart (I travel from Manchester and have a little boy, so weekly has not been possible for me) and plan to continue doing so for the near future. I also unfortunately had a fall in a soft play centre with my son in between these appointments which aggravated some pain on one side of my coccyx. When I saw Dr Durtnall at my next appointment following this, he worked on that area and it was much better afterward. Overall, now after about 15-20 minutes of sitting, rather than unbearable sharp pain, it is more uncomfortable/stiff. Some days it feels worse again and then it gets better again, none the less it is a much better situation than where I was 4 months ago. At the moment I would say I am 60-70% better, I actually feel like a pain free life is within reach. Dr Durtnall tells me my stiff coccyx joints are moving better than before, though they are still quite stiff. I have not been taking any painkillers since seeing Dr Durtnall. Fingers are crossed that I continue to get better.

Dr Durtnall is also helping me settle some neck pain issues I have had. I have also being seeing one of his physiotherapists Katy for long standing posture and upper back problems, who is absolutely amazing. I have seen almost a dozen physiotherapists in my life, and I have never been worked on with the technique she uses. She is also helping my coccyx by working around the pelvis area. I have only had two appointments with her but I feel like I am getting better every time. Overall I would advise anyone reading this, to act as quick as you can. Do not hesitate to see Dr Durtnall and his team. He is incredibly knowledgeable in regards to the coccyx, so much more than you will ever find via a referral from your GP. He takes an interest in it and he wants to make you better without any reliance on steroid injections and pain killers. His professionalism does not make the rectal treatment awkward or uncomfortable at all. I only wish I had visited him and his team sooner.

Good luck to anyone reading this, I really hope your pain and suffering eases.

Nadia

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