Degenerative disc protrusion and annular tear of L4/L5 coccyx segments

Maggie, Essex, UK -

Posted 2018-02-25

I initially started suffering from numbness in my buttocks when I was sitting for periods of time. I had never realised that numbness is actually painful! After suffering the numbness for about 2 months I then also developed pins & needles in my buttocks. The pain when sitting was so uncomfortable & I was repeatedly sitting/standing but the pain & sensations never went away. By June I had developed excruciating pain when getting up from sitting, thought this is not going to get better on its own & booked a GP appointment. The GP kept asking if I had had a fall which I hadn't! I found it difficult to get them to understand how much pain I was in. Eventually in September GP sent me for x-ray but was told that it probably would not show up anything due to the area of the pain. They were right! I was prescribed numerous pain killers. Tramadol which made me itch all over, Naproxen, paracetamol/Codeine, non effective, Diclofenac, made me drowsy a little and finally Amitriptyline but was only prescribed for 2 months. Have really had no relief from the pain and have now stopped taking due to stomach upsets.

Colleague at work suggested Acupuncture of which I had around 15 sessions. I found this relieved pain for around 12 hours and then was coming back with a vengeance. Finally was referred to a pain Consultant at the Roding private hospital and he advised a MRI scan.

March 2017 - The result showed degenerative disc protrusion and annular tear of L4/L5 coccyx segments which was contacting the left L5 nerve root. I had Cortisone infiltration at end of March and thought wow! after 2 weeks of discomfort the pain had eased considerably for 3 months then came back with a kick. The procedure was repeated in September 2017 but this time suffered intense pain afterwards and no relief whatsoever. The Pain Consultant then referred me to a Neuro/Spinal Surgeon at Holly House. I met with him in December 17 and he recommended a surgical excision of the coccyx. I am booked in to have my operation on 7th March. My work have been extremely supportive, reducing hours when needed, supplying coccyx cut out chair as I am an Administrator, and also a stand-up, sit down desk. These have helped but the pain is constant whatever I do. I can no longer lay on my back and am constantly leaning on one or other buttock, or dragging my coccyx cut out cushion with me, this does not help either, but I go through the motions.

Saying that I am terrified of the operation and outcome is an under statement, but I have suffered so much I think it's worth the risk so I can try and get my life back on track.

Thank you for taking the time to read my experience so far. If you are suffering this pain I truly sympathise, please find a GP that will understand and get them to refer you on to a Specialist.

Posted 2019-04-14

This is a 1 year update on my recovery from coccyx excision operation which was performed on 7 March 2018 by Mr Ellamushi, The Holly, Buckhurst Hill, Essex. (Private hospital, through the NHS) (see Doctors and specialists in the UK, Essex). I stayed in hospital for 3 days, on my discharge I was very nervous about travelling home, the journey by car was horrendous, every bump in the road was painful even though the area was numbed. My partner bought a quilt and lots of pillows with him for the 20 minute journey, would have been better to have laid on my side, but he laid front seat back & packed me out with pillows. After arriving home I felt ok, managed to get upstairs to bed, I felt exhausted.

Thinking I was ok came back down the stairs to eat after about 5 minutes of standing I became hot & dizzy & passed out. I decided then that I would not come down the stairs again for at least 2 weeks to give my body time to heal.

I have a relatively small scar, the area around was very delicate, funny feeling when I touched it & showered only in Hibiscrub. I knew I would be out of action for a few months and I had made plans of how to spend my days and got into a routine. I was unable to lay on my back for around 4 months, so I slept on my side with a maternity pillow protecting me, (this was my lifeline) if your having this kind of op, you will be wise to purchase one.

My first check up was 10 days later. The scar was looking good, but I wasn't prepared for the tiredness. This went on for months. I wasn't in pain but I was a uncomfortable & was still using my coccyx cut out cushion to sit on for around 5 months. I was lucky as this took me into summer, so I was lying around on the couches in the garden, (this was also a lifeline).

After 3 months I was going out to do errands, after the pain I had gone through leading up to the op I did not push myself. I did not drive for around 4 months and took the option of walking everywhere to build my strength back up. I believe this has helped me to recover properly. I returned to work in September 18, I have another new office chair which is better than the previous one I was given, my work have been really understanding and I was able to do a phased return to work which helped enormously.

One year on & I think it's the best thing I've ever done. I am able to sit in comfort and apart from itchiness around the scar area all is wonderful. I have my life back. If you are having this op, please don't push yourself into getting back to fitness too early, it's not worth it. Take your time & be patient. Break your days up, and make sure you have everything in reaching distance.

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