Coccydynia with leg pain and weakness

Tonya Owen - towen@glasgow-ky.com

I, too have suffered from tailbone pain from no known source since November 2000. I have had two episodes of severe low back spasms, severe enough to take me off work since February 25th. I am an emergency center RN; we are well known for not being able to be still. This problem has totally disrupted my life. I don't do well being bored!! Also, I'm only 29 years old. My husband is going back to school, so we had anticipated starting a family within the next year or two. Just thinking about how painful that will be with this other problem is very scary.

Nurses are also known for not taking care of their own health, so I put off going to the doctor until January. She was puzzled, so she prescribed a steroid injection and some muscle relaxers (that was during the first spasmodic episode). After two weeks, the spasms were improved, but the coccyx pain continued. I, too, ordered the coccyx cushion, but my pain finally got so bad that it also hurt to stand or lie down. At that time, my doctor prescribed physical therapy. They have a wonderful new procedure called iontophoresis; based on electric charges of medication, this machine sort of electrically drives Decadron into my coccyx. It does offer some improvement. The pain is much more localized after treatment. However, if I miss therapy for more than a day or two, the pain gets bad again.

At the end of February, I was working one day and developed SEVERE muscle spasms in my mid- to low back. The doctor changed my muscle relaxer. Physical therapy continued with EMS, heat/ultrasound, and iontophoresis. It took two weeks for the initial spasm to relax. They put me on family medical leave at work. I had an MRI that showed mild scoliosis with the spine deviated to the left, and bulging discs at L4-5 and L5-S1, left significantly greater than right. I also walk two miles at least every other day, but recently I have developed left leg pain, weakness, and tingling of the left hip, leg and foot with my walks. It feels as though I have to make a conscious effort to put my left foot in the right place, otherwise it deviates to the left. This is especially noticeable on the treadmill. If I don't pay attention, I step off the left side of the belt. The physical therapist told me my left leg is weaker than when I started. I see a neurosurgeon Wednesday, March 27; however, my family doc and the docs I work with say they do not feel he will recommend surgery at this point. They say he will continue physical therapy, which feels good at the time, but doesn't seem to be returning me to my normal level of functioning.

I am so scared and depressed. A friend who works at the same hospital as me had a baby in November. She had a terrible pregnancy. She was in the hospital most of the time, and even had to have her gall bladder removed during pregnancy. By the time she was ready to come back to work, they told her that since she had exceeded her 12 weeks of family medical leave allowed by law, she had been terminated and was welcome to reapply. So she and her husband have a new baby, one income, and guess what? My hospital turned them over to a collection agency because they can't afford to pay what the hospital wants per month because THEY FIRED HER FOR BEING A PATIENT IN THEIR HOSPITAL!!!!! They are talking to a lawyer, but I'm still scared to death the same thing will happen to me if I don't get back soon. I don't feel like I'm able to return, but I feel I have no choice. Who else is going to hire a nurse with bulging discs? I did not file workers' comp even though I had a back injury from a patient in 2000. I was afraid they would try to find a way to get rid of me!!!

I guess I should wrap this up-- in case you didn't know, nurses are also well known for running their mouths all the time (or fingers in this case).

Tonya Owen

Glasgow, Kentucky

Updated 2002-07-21

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