Coccyx surgically removed - great success (so far!)

John Lang - janetjohn@oakridge.fsnet.co.uk

Original posting, 2005-03-27:

This is my story, chronologically, from the beginning -

Eight years ago, whilst on vacation in Colorado USA, my wife and I decided to take a horseride with a horsetrekking outfit who did tours at horsewalking pace around the foothills of The Rockies. This seemed a good idea at the time but it turned out to be just about the dumbest thing I have ever done in my life!!

After the ride, which was scheduled for one and a half hours duration (but was actually well over two hours), I got off the horse with an aching coccyx, which has plagued me ever since.

After two months the pain had not diminished, saw my doctor who fixed me up with some ultrasound physiotherapy. Six weeks of this had no effect. My next attempted cure was a course of acupuncture - an absolute waste of time and money!

I got some relief from using the butt-hole cushions, which I would be using permanently for the next seven years. The next treatment was the injection of cortisone into the coccyx - relief for approximately two days, then the pain returned. I would end up having a total of five of these over the ensuing years, none of which had any lasting affect. The last injection got infected at the injection site causing twice the pain! (Two weeks of hell and antibiotics).

Put my name down for surgery June 2004.

In October this year, having read through the contributions to this wonderful site (thanks Jon), I decided to have one last try at an alternative cure and contacted Scott Middleton (Chiropractor), (see list of Doctors and Specialists UK). Initial contact by telephone as his practice was a three and a half hour drive from home. He informs me he has a high success rate and we arranged for an initial treatment/consultation.

Arrived Wilmslow, Cheshire, UK for first treatment which involved internal manipulation (I must warn you that this tends to make your eyes water a bit!!) He manipulated the muscle walls either side of the coccyx and the coccyx itself. This initial treatment resulted in instant relief! I could not believe it and for the next two days I kept repeating 'I don't believe it!' But alas on the third day, pain returned and three subsequent treatments over the next two weeks had no effect. To be fair to Scott, (very nice guy) he had said to me that if he could not put me on the road to a cure after four treatments, he could not help me, and, of course, his treatment was not aided by my long car journey home after each appointment! I would certainly recommend trying his treatment for any recent victims of coccyx pain.

Almost immediately after this treatment, my operation date arrived - Thursday, 18 November at St Albans, Herts, UK (about ten miles from my home in Berkhamsted). The surgery to be performed by Mr P Dyson (see list of Doctors and Specialists UK). My operation was done on UK National Health (private treatment would probably cost 5,000 - 7,000!)

Thursday, 18 November - Surgery performed at 6.30 p.m. and two hours later I am back in the ward with a morphine drip which I used for the next two days.

Saturday, 20 November - Feel pretty good, very little pain or discomfort. Still a bit groggy from after-effects of anaesthetic.

Sunday, 21 November - Feel fine, hardly any pain. Go home lying on back seat of car. Sleeping on my side at night.

Tuesday, 23 November - Still feel good, slight discomfort from incision site (about three inches long). Buttocks are a bit achy, but I am off the painkillers.

Wednesday, 24 November - Alternate moving about and resting (I am still happier standing than laying). Tried sitting down - OK for a quarter of an hour but still have aching buttocks.

Thursday, 25 November - I appear to have slight infection in part of the incision site. It's sore and inflamed. Visit my Doctor who confirmed this and prescribes a week of penicillin antibiotics.

Saturday, 27 November - Inflammation and soreness starting to dissipate. Hopefully the infection is clearing up.

Thursday, 2 December - Infection has cleared up. Aching in buttocks disappeared. Sitting for longer periods but still have what I can best describe as a 'tingling' sensation around the incision site which I presume to be nerve endings still inflamed (the surgeon did pre warn me that this might happen and that it may not go away!) However, this is not as painful as the coccyx pain before the operation.

Considering I am, at this point, only two weeks after surgery I feel pretty good about the whole situation at this time.

Friday, 3 December - Quite sore last night and today. Infection appears to be gone but consulted Doctor about soreness and pain from the incision area. I think I may be trying to do too much too soon. He says the infection would have set off a lot of the nerve pain. The incision now healing nicely and to take the Diclofenac three times daily. His advice is to sit or exercise at my own pace - 'Whatever you feel like doing' were his actual words.

Friday, 17 December - Exactly one month from operation. Everything much improved, off the painkillers again. Can now sit for hours rather than minutes. Went to the theatre last night. Still using the bum cushion. Considering it was a round trip of two hours plus two hours in theatre, I did pretty well but had to use a Diclofenac again. This is the next day, I feel OK again. Tingling sensation going. Still a bit sore around the incision site but now off the Diclofenac in the daytime and most nights. Back in work part-time.

Thursday, 17 March 2005 - Four months from operation. Feel wonderful - 90% better and still improving. Have virtually discarded the bum cushion except for when I sit for long periods at home in a soft armchair. I fully expect to reach 100% recovery and now wish that I had had the operation years ago!

I will update this in a few months but to sum up here are a few points of advice I would offer for any new sufferers of the condition:

  1. Contact Scott Middleton, Chiropractor of Wilmslow, Cheshire, UK (see list of Doctors and Specialists). He has a very good success rate. Sadly he could not achieve a permanent cure for me.
  2. If this does not work - see your doctor. Put yourself down for one coccyx injection (if one injection doesn't work, don't bother trying any more).
  3. If you're still suffering, I consider the only remedy is surgical removal of the coccyx.
  4. Before I had the surgery everybody (doctor, chiropractor, surgeon who did it, wife and friends) warned me about the pitfalls. No one said it was a good idea before trying every avenue of treatment. After I had the surgery everybody (including all the above) said it was the best thing to do!

I wish everybody luck with whatever they try to alleviate this condition and my sympathies are with those minority who have not had good results with surgery. I thank Mr Dyson who performed the operation for the good result I have had from surgery. He came highly recommended as a brilliant Orthopaedic Surgeon.

If anyone wishes to contact me to further discuss their problem, I will try to help. Email only please - janetjohn@oakridge.fsnet.co.uk

John Lang

Berkhamsted, Herts, UK.

Update, 2005-11-13

First of all thanks to all the fellow sufferers who have emailed me for advice etc, I hope that my replies were of some help. If any others want to email me don't hesitate, I will always reply.

So, it has now been over a year since my op. I can report a 90% success and I feel that over the next year there is still room for further recovery. I am told that the residual slight discomfort at times is due to the scar tissue which can take up to 2 years to sort itself out.

I still use the "bum" cushions when sitting for prolonged periods [especially in a soft armchair and for long car journeys]. I can sit on a hard seat as long as any normal person can, as of course there is no longer any coccyx to be pressured.

I do still get the odd day of slight discomfort, which I can best describe as a sense of "stiffness" in the operated area, for no rhyme or reason that I can pinpoint but these days are becoming less frequent.

So that's it really! I would say again that the op is the best course of action. Obviously different sufferers have differing degrees of pain and frustration with the medical profession. The main point of this frustration is the reluctance of any professional medical personnel to say "yes you should have the op and yes it will benefit you!". This only happens AFTER the success of an operation. Obviously they HAVE to cover their own arses, if you will excuse the unintentional pun!!

Anyway, I will update this again next year probably for the final time as I am reliably informed that the result you have after 2 years is the result you have to accept and live with, whether it be good or not so good.

I welcome emails from fellow sufferers, I can at the least lend a sympathetic email ear so don't hesitate to contact me if you think I can help you. Thanks again to Jon for this wonderful forum for coccysidinia.

Sincerely, John Lang

Update, 2007-06-24

It has now been about two and a half years since my op. Although I mentioned that I had heard that the final result after 2 years was the result you could expect, I can now report that my condition went on improving.

In the last 6 months it seems to have improved tremendously!! I still like to use a "bum" cushion if I sit at home in a soft armchair, a long journey by car, coach or airflight, although the time is approaching when I will abandon the cushion even for them. In fact I am beginning to think that this extended use of the cushion is psychological rather than physiological!!

I now consider myself 95% cured and maybe, with luck, I will reach the elusive 100%. I wish all of you the best of luck with any cure you attempt and if I can help any sufferer in any way PLEASE email me and I will do my best to help and advise, although of course, in the end the final decision must be yours. I can only say that the decision to have my coccyx removed was the correct one for me.

sincerely,

John Lang

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