Freak biking incident

Graham -

Original posting, 2005-06-26:

I injured myself in a bit of a freak biking incident - one Saturday morning I headed out on my mountain bike as usual, but decided to stop in the yard. Wasn't going fast at all, and I slid forward off the seat and straddled the bike - the bike kept moving forward and the tip of the seat hit me in the tailbone. The bike weighs, oh, between 30-35 pounds. Man, that hurt, and it hurt a lot for a while. However, over the last two months since the incident, the pain has diminished, but about two weeks ago I came to the conclusion that it wasn't getting any better. It's a dull ache that comes and goes.

When I sit for a long time at work or in my car my tailbone acts up, and I was forced to abandon my weightlifting regimen due to the problems with my tailbone - a variety of exercises at the gym would bother it, including pushups (of all things). Fortunately, I can still cycle without bothering the tailbone.

Saw my doctor, and he had me go for X-Rays and I started ultrasonic physiotherapy yesterday (22-June). I'm scheduled for physio sessions over the next couple of weeks, so I'll let you all know how it works out.

It seems to hurt only when there's pressure applied to it, so I don't know if I broke it (my doctor hasn't called back about the x-rays, and no news is usually good news in that department) or if I just bruised/irritated it due to the trauma.

Update, 2005-08-21:

Well, the initial recommendation from my family doctor was for physiotherapy. Ultrasonic physiotherapy! Sounded very high-tech to me - I thought ultrasound was only good for getting pictures of babies in the mother's womb, etc.

Anyways, the gig is this: the ultrasonic waves cause vibrations at various frequencies, and those vibrations penetrate bodily tissues and can have a healing/regenerative effect. Ultrasonic therapy is used for a variety of ailments, but seeing as how tailbone problems are rare, none of the three physiotherapists (or two kinesiologists) at my clinic had any experience with tailbone problems. I have now been through eight sessions of ultrasonic physiotherapy and I can say two things: 1) It helped a bit, and 2) It's a real pain in the ass (I don't know if I intend the pun or not!).

Bottom line, it didn't fix the problem like I was hoping it would. I think that it helped heal the tissue inflammation caused by my trauma (bike seat impact), but because my tailbone is probably out of alignment, it can't cure that. I had a somewhat animated conversation with my scam artist... er... physiotherapist about what to do next, and he wasn't all that helpful.

He suggested that I need to strengthen the muscles in the area of the coccyx, but seeing as how I can deadlift 225 pounds for three sets of 15 reps each, I don't think that's an issue. Sure, there may be room for improvement, but at this point, the exercise thing doesn't make any sense.

I had a very helpful discussion with the head trainer/owner of my local gym (a guy by the name of Cam). Cam spoke with a veteran fitness doctor (who heads a physical fitness organization that Cam belongs to) who suggested that my tailbone is indeed out of alignment, and that I seek out an Osteopath to re-align it.

Some cursory research into the subject of Osteopathy in Ontario has turned up some... interesting information. In America, Osteopathy is a regulated medical practice. In Ontario, it's the wild west. Osteopathy is an unregulated type of medical practice, which puts it on par with the Canadian School of Naturopathic Nutrition. Not exactly confidence-inspiring. I am going back to my family doctor to get his opinion. We'll see what the verdict is.


Update, 2006-06-25:

Well, it's been the better part of a year since I last put up a post here on Jon's website, and after reading a few stories this afternoon I felt I should contribute something a little more positive. Everyone out there who is suffering with a coccyx issue has my sympathy.

In the fall of 2005, after my experience with physiotherapy, I went back to my doctor to discuss the situation. My x-rays showed that the tip of my coccyx was out of alignment/damaged, but the damage looked older than my recent biking trauma. I was mystified on that one, but later in the day I remembered falling off a windsurfer into shallow water - landing butt-first on a hard gravelly bottom. As that was in the summer of 1990, I don't remember it clearly, but it seems to me that I had hurt my butt at that point. That was probably what put the tip of the coccyx out of alignment. I had totally forgotten about it in the 14 years which had passed by. ;)

Anyways, I asked my doctor for some options. He had two - 1) cortisone shots, and 2) surgery. The cortisone idea didn't appeal to me that much, and based on what I've read here on Jon's site, the surgery idea pretty much scares me. Plus, regardless of what you might hear about the health care paradise that is Canada, I live in Southern Ontario, which has about the worst health-care situation in the entire country. Specialist doctors are few and far between, and there is only one lower-body Orthopedic surgeon in my area, and I have no idea if he knows what he's doing.

Anyways, I received a prescription for another round of anti-inflammatory pills, which lasted several months, and they do help. But they're not a long-term solution.

Right after New Year's, in early January 2006, I tried acupuncture. The nice Chinese doctor told me that she had successfully treated patients for tailbone problems in the past. I then proceeded with a series of 10 treatments, 2/week for five weeks, involving stimulation of my tailbone area and legs. People commonly say that when you receive acupuncture "you don't feel the needles". Yeah, well when needles are being stabbed into the pressure points and nerve clusters of your legs and ankles, people tend to feel it. At least I did, and it wasn't pleasant. Around the tailbone didn't hurt nearly as badly though.

I guess acupuncture and ultrasonic physiotherapy have the same goal - stimulate the body to ramp up the natural healing process. Anyways, I would like to say that acupuncture helped, but it really didn't. It was painful and awkward and I discontinued it after 10 sessions.

However, in the good news department, I picked up one of those coccyx cushions from a medical supply store, and man, what a difference it made! I suddenly was able to sit throughout the day at work without pain! This cushion has been my saving grace - I use it at work, on long car rides, and I'll bring it with me on an airplane if I have to. I believe that this cushion has helped me more than any pill or needle or physiotherapist.

I have continued to cycle and weightlift during the nearly 14 months it's been since my accident and tailbone injury. Today, while I'm not 100%, I'm far better off than I once was. In my case I guess I've been lucky - I've basically let time heal my injury. I am always careful of what I am sitting on, how I'm sitting and for how long. Basically I've used common sense. I want that message to get out there, because if it worked for me, it can work for others (I'm 30 years old BTW).

Good luck all.


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