Pain started in pregnancy, had coccyx removed

Mary Bisagno -

Updates, January and March 2000

In September 1997 about 20 weeks (halfway) into my 2nd pregnancy I noticed that sometimes my tailbone area would start hurting after sitting for a while. When I stood up and relieved the pressure the pain was horrible, but after the initial pain I had no pain walking, exercising or standing. The pain was off and on during my pregnancy, but after my daughter was born, I had pain all the time.

When the baby was almost 3 months old, I called my doctor and made an appointment to see her. She didn't take an x ray because she said that even if my tailbone was broken or cracked there was nothing to do for it. Since I was exclusively nursing my baby the only drug she could prescribe was Ibuprofen. She gave me 800 mg up to 3 times daily. Of course that didn't even touch the tailbone pain. I had to give up nursing the baby in the rocking chair in her room. It hurt too much to sit there. Even in the middle of the night I would come down the hall to the living room to sit in the rocker/recliner which was wide enough for me to tuck my feet up and sit sideways on one hip while I was breast-feeding.

I decided to call my chiropractor. I love my chiropractor, he's done some wonderful things for my back in the past. His staff asked me to come on in. Dr. Keith tried two different treatments, including ultrasound therapy and again, neither one touched the pain. He offered to try a 3rd therapy, manual manipulation, but call me squeamish the very thought just grossed me out and I decided to live with the pain.

I believe my Daddy suggested an orthopedic specialist. I made an appointment with a doctor covered by our insurance and in August 1997, with husband in tow I went to meet Dr. Bruce Darden. I was sent for x-rays after a physician's assistant took my medical history. I explained that the pain was all the time while sitting and upon initially standing, but I was able to walk, stand and exercise just fine. When the doctor came in he asked a few questions and we asked him a few questions. Unfortunately, it was like pulling teeth getting an answer from him. When we asked questions he would just sit there ...... and the silence would stretch. Finally after some wrangling he laid out my options. A cushion to relieve the pressure. A cortisone shot or as a final resort, surgery. I explained that I was breast-feeding my 7 month old daughter and asked if the medication would affect my breast-milk. Dr. Darden said he did not know. I asked him to find out for me please. He let out a huffing breath and literally got up and stomped out of the room! My husband and I were floored. We just sat there and stared at each other, not believing that a supposed professional would act so childish. When he returned to the room I calmly explained that I had come to him for help and needed answers to my questions. As sole food supply for my daughter there was no way to have a cortisone shot if it would affect my milk supply. It was very important to me to continue nursing until my daughter was a year old. As it turns out cortisone does crossover into breast milk, so I did not take the shot that day. We did go to a wheelchair supply store and find a cushion with a triangle shaped notch cut out of the back to relieve pressure from the tailbone. The cushion helped a lot.

On December 22, 1997, I went back to the same office to meet a different doctor. Dr. Daniel Murrey was very nice and very patient with me and with my husband and with our questions. I left the office after receiving a cortisone shot and was pain free for close to 2 weeks. I went back in February for another shot which did absolutely nothing for me and in fact made me hurt worse. In April we went in to discuss surgery. We talked over the pros and cons and decided on early June for a surgery date.

On June 7th 1998 I went to Presbyterian Orthopedic Hospital in Charlotte North Carolina. The surgeons who treated me were at the Charlotte Spine Center (part of Charlotte Orthopedic Specialists). I received general anesthesia and the surgery lasted a little over an hour. I woke up with a horrible sore throat that lasted about 2 days (from the breathing tube they inserted) and even worse nausea from the anesthesia which lasted the rest of the day. They prescribed Vicoden for the pain. It helped a lot and made me sleep. My husband was home for 2 days before he went back to work. My grandmother spent the nights with us while he was gone and my mother came over from 1230pm until my grandmother came over around 9pm. I spent most of the days in bed for about the first 2 weeks. I had to lie on my side. They told me no bath for 7 days and to come back after 10 days to have the stitches removed. I took a sponge bath the day after my surgery (with a little help from my husband) and washed my hair in the sink. Just feeling clean made me feel better!

After 10 days, I went in and had my stitches removed. It was fairly pain free. I only felt a little tugging sensation. Dr. Murrey said the skin was healed. I could sit on my cushion with only a little pain. The main problem was sitting back in a chair which put pressure on the scar area and hurt.

After a month I started exercising again. I started out walking and progressed into floor aerobics. I couldn't do lunges or sit ups or anything lying down, but everything else was pain free.

We went on vacation (holiday) at the beginning of August. Although it was a pain to tote my cushion, we took it with us anyway. It was a big help on the four hour flight. I noticed though during the month of August, that I was able to sit better.

In September 3 months after my surgery, I was in my baby's room in the middle of the night. She woke up crying and a diaper change and drink of water didn't comfort her. I sat down in the rocking chair with her and started to rock her. After about 3 minutes I realized that I wasn't hurting!! I was startled but happy. (Haven't been that happy at 3am in a long time!) I drove about 30 minutes the next day to go shopping and was pain free. We took a 3 hour drive the next weekend and I was pain free!

4 months after my surgery, I am doing well. Sometimes I feel a twinge if I sit too long, but just the other day I realized that I am starting to take sitting down for granted again. (Boy, that didn't take long.) I have gone back to teaching aerobics classes again and on October 2, 1999 I competed in my first 5K road race.

My advice? Keep looking until you find the right doctor for you. Don't take no for an answer. Consider all of your options carefully. What worked or did not work for me may work for you. Above all, don't wait too long!

If you do decide to have surgery, here's some advice:

2000 January:

Just a quick update for you and anyone else who's interested. 7 months after my operation, I'm still doing well. No major pain to speak of. If I sit in a very hard chair for a very long time I might feel a slight twinge, but nowhere near the volume (don't know how else to describe it) of pain I had pre-surgery. No pain killers required. I would still recommend the surgery to anyone who asked. It's been the best thing for me.

2000 March:

Just want to let everyone know that there is some hope! 9 months post surgery, I'm doing great. I have been pain free since September 1999. (about 6 months now) I do have the occasional twinge if I sit on a hard chair or in a strange position for a very long time (I mean hours not minutes) but I don't have anywhere near the volume of pain I had before.

I also want everyone to know I have entered my first marathon! I'll be taking part in the Dublin City Marathon on October 30, 2000 in Dublin, Ireland! (competing as a walker)

So, there is life after surgery! I hope everyone who reads this will be encouraged! I am truly blessed to be back to normal. My biggest advice is don't wait too long to see a doctor. You may not need surgery, a different treatment may work better, just get treated and don't live with the pain. ( I sound like a commercial!!)

Good luck. I'm happy to answer any questions about my experience

I went for my annual exam yesterday. My Gyn doctor asked about my tailbone. (I initially called after Tori was born to find out if maybe my tailbone had been cracked or broken during her birth) I told him what happened and about my surgery. Apparently he has a couple of patients with the same problem. I also got an interesting bit of info.

A little background. Both of my labors were very short. I was in labor with my oldest for 2 hours 23 minutes. My second labor was 1 hour 30 minutes. When a woman has labor as quickly as I did (this is why I have 2 children not 3!) she may dilate a little larger. The baby enters the birth canal very swiftly and will push the tailbone out of the way sometimes even breaking it. So, my tailbone may have already been slightly out of whack with the first labor and the second pregnancy only intensified it. Also, (and I already knew this) sometimes when a woman has "back labor" with most of the pain in her back the baby may be born face up with the bony part of the head against the woman's back, thus the back pain, and the baby's head can break the tailbone.

Updated 2000-03-20

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