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Dear Pretty polly,I hope you are finding things easier since your post. I am grateful for your article sharing your experience with coccyx pain which I am suffering from albeit not as severely as you but even after two and half years after having my third baby - shoulder dystocia and a whopping 10 lbs 5 oz!! No wonder my tailbone got pushed out of place! I am trying acupuncture at the moment but it seems to be getting worse,not better. Anyway, just knowing I am not alone helps. May you get completely well and please enjoy your child even though you are having difficulties - they grow so, so quickly don't they.Thanks again. Emma
Have you ever been in so much pain you are unable to stand up from sitting or lie on your back because the pain is so bad? If so you may have Coccydynia.
*What is Coccydynia?*
Coccydynia is a condition that occurs in the base of your spine also known as your tail bone, bum bone or more technically, coccyx. Coccydynia is a condition that is commonly caused by a trauma to the area, for example falling backwards, surgery or childbirth. However the pain for a third of all suffers is sadly unknown.
Coccydynia makes it very painful to sit down for short or a long period on any surface and lying down on your back is also extremely uncomfortable.
Pain can vary between general discomfort to severe pain. Depending on how much your coccyx has moved Coccydynia can last months too years.
*All about me and Coccydynia?*
When my first born daughter decided to make an entrance into the world two weeks early in 2008 there wasn't a lot of time for anything. Labour started 7am with light backache and by 2:30 to 3pm I was in hospital fully dilated. Because I was fully dilated they said I couldn't have any pain relief not even gas and air as there was no time. Unfortunately, my contractions were getting longer and they said to push without any contractions as they said my baby was a little distressed. After some time my daughter came into the world at 5:46pm.
Because of the quickness of the birth I suffered a third degree tear as well as Coccydynia, which I wasn't to know until a year after. Because of all the painkillers I was on due to my tear I was unaware of my coccyx problem until I came off the tablets and that is when the pain started for me.
Six months after having my daughter I knew there was something wrong with my coccyx. I found sitting for short and long periods and on any surface very hard to do. Standing up from a sitting position was very difficult and most of the time I would be on my knees waiting for the pain to subside. Lying on my back was a no-no as well, as my coccyx bone was protruding outwards to the left. It was therefore easy to feel and to put pressure on it without realising I was doing so, thus causing more pain. Above my coccyx I can also feel some spinal disks that have moved with my coccyx.
I went to the doctor to see if there was any treatment. Unfortunately my doctor didn't realise you could get coccyx pain via childbirth and said there was nothing that could be done apart from taking pain killers and eventually it would sort itself out. Thankfully I sought a second opinion, who the second doctor again was puzzled that my coccyx pain was caused by childbirth but for pain relief I was to have steroid injections at the point of the pain, which they called a Minor Op.
Before injecting the area with steroid, a qualified doctor injects the area with some local anaesthetic to numb the area, even with anaesthetic the injection was still painful - it really stung!.
Steroid injections can ease the pain straight away or can take a few hours to days to fully get to work, the injection can last up to six months in some cases. Mine lasted six weeks on and off but thankfully the pain was reduced. Unfortunately once the steroid injection ceased to work I found the pain came back the same and once again I was at the doctors asking for another injection and I also asked if my coccyx bone could be removed. He didn't like this idea and said he wouldn't refer me as the operation is too dangerous and I may be on steroid injections for the rest of my life.
Coccydynia can really be a crippling condition, and to do something so simple as sitting down now becomes a thing of the past. My condition became so bad I am unable to drive as even sitting in a passenger seat means I am in a lot of pain and constantly moving to try and combat the pain. Bending down has to be done gently carefully as I can feel shooting pains going down my legs from my coccyx. When I am lying in bed, I need to ensure I have cushions surrounding me so that I can't roll over. Sitting on my bed is another no go. Sometimes I have resorted to sitting on the floor as sitting on my own sofa is unbearable and I have been known to cry as the pain can become too unbearable.
Because I never had a name for my misery condition I always thought the doctors thought I was making it up. Fast-forward to when we moved house in August 2010 and seeing my new doctor for another steroid injection. Straight away he said I had a condition called Coccydynia and he didn't want me to keep having steroid injections as long term they're not good for one's health and it's not really helping the problem just masking it. There was also no one qualified enough at the surgery to give me the injection. He asked how I felt about having my coccyx removed, I must have looked very surprised indeed. He asked me was wrong and when I said my previous doctor wouldn't put me forward as it was too dangerous he said it was nonsense and things have changed since then, although no surgery is risk free.
Upon my appointment with a spinal surgeon he said surgery for removal was the last resort for Coccydynia and one they won't take lightly as it comes with risks. It is also a very uncommon surgery, so he suggested trying what they call Manipulation of the Coccyx first and if I didn't have this done eventually my condition would be worse and would lead me to be bed bound in a few years. At 27 this isn't something I wanted to hear and not with a bouncing little girl to think about.
Manipulation of the Coccyx is performed in day surgery under general anaesthetic, and is thought to relieve some of the pressure from the coccyx bone releasing pressure and so reducing pain. The procedure usually takes 30 minutes to perform. The spinal surgeon places a gloved finger into the patient's anus and tries to manipulate the coccyx back into its original position without the need for cutting the area and so causing more pain. Unfortunately when I came around from the anaesthetic I discovered that although the surgery lasted 45 minutes and they were unable to move my coccyx as it was too rigid and stuck but they have given me another steroid injection and they asked me to come back in six weeks for a further check up.
A few weeks into my post surgery my pain returned, and a lot worse than before, now with chronic lower back pain I am also found that when I woke from sleeping on my back without cushions I couldn't roll over without being in agony and crying in pain.
My next hospital appointment confirmed that I am to have my coccyx removed as everything else has failed to stop the pain I am in. Removal of the coccyx is called Coccygectomy. My spinal surgeon has emphasised that this is a delicate procedure to perform.
Coccygectomy is carried out under general aesthetic and lasts for about an hour. A two inch incision is made right over the top of the coccyx (rectum). Muscles, tendons and ligaments including pelvis floor muscle that are attached to your coccyx bone are reattached to your pelvis as quick as possible to in order to preserve their functions.
Because of the delicate nature of the operation, I have been told by my surgeon I may suffer rectum damage and I may experience a post operative infection due to where the operation is performed. Infection is likely to occur because the coccyx is so close to the rectum and anus where the incision will be carried out, making it easy for bacteria to spread.
Recovering from surgery can take up to six months to a year; pain will increase for a few months while the area heals.
Because muscles, tendons and ligaments have been moved, they are likely to become weaker later on in life and this is where I may experience some more problems with my pelvic floor and I may experience a prolapse. Furthermore, there may be problems with my rectum due to the tissue damage caused by surgery.
I have ordered Coccydynia Orthopaedic Cushion for after my operation. This is a cushion that can be carried anywhere and is made purely from memory foam. Half of the middle is cut out so there is no pressure on the coccyx or operation area.
*What other treatments are available?*
Other treatment methods are different for everyone and the severity of their problem, but common treatments include: (in treatment order)
* Painkillers, these are recommended and prescribed if your pain is mild to moderate; these are also prescribed with anti-inflammatory tablets.
* Cushions and pillows can help Coccydynia suffers a great deal but are not for everyone. Most cushions come in a doughnut shape that takes pressure off your coccyx bone when sitting.
* Injections; injections are put directly into your lower back to relieve pain. These include; Corticosteroids this helps with reducing inflammation. Ganglion Nerve Block, Ganglion is a cluster of nerves next to your coccyx; it is thought these nerves that pain signals travel. Blocking these signals control the pain.
Steroid injection or also known as Sacrococcygeal Joint Injection, the joint is injected with local anaesthetic.
* Spinal Manipulation, is said to ease pain symptoms in many people but is not successful for many others.
* Surgery, this is the last and only option left when other treatments have failed.
(Information from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/coccydinia/Pages/Treatment.aspx)
I am soon to have my pre-op assessment and then I will get a date for surgery. I know people may find surgery a little drastic but if you we're in this much pain I am sure you would highly consider it as well.
Since the birth of my daughter so far I have undergone two operations, one to fix my badly healed third degree scar, manipulation of my coccyx and now my Coccygectomy.
People keep asking me when the next baby is coming along, in all honestly I don't know if I would want another as going through all of this has put me off for life, but never say never.
Useful links on this condition include:
http://www.coccyx.org/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coccydynia