Like others, things are falling apart

Mark -

Hi everyone: I am not sure if this website has been beneficial or not. On the one hand, it has helped me realize that I am not alone. On the other, it shows how desperate this injury is and how difficult and depressing it is to deal with such pain.

On December 29, 2004, I crashed really bad in a back country skiing accident. I hit a rock hidden underneath the snow going pretty fast, and impacted the right gluteal hard. The pain was so intense it makes me shudder to think about it. I went to the emergency room, where they didn't do too much except make sure my pelvis wasn't broken. They sent me home with percocet. The ensuing bruise was enormous. It ran from the top of my right hip to the bottom of the calf, and included the whole leg but the quadracept. The pain was so intense that I went back to the doc to get an x-ray. They came back inconclusive and I was sent home with percocet.

After another month or so, I went to a different orthopedist and demanded more info. He took another set of x-rays on March 30 2005 and determined the tailbone was 'broken', although dislocated is probably a better word since the coccyx rarely fractures. According to Dr. Karch, my tailbone was measured at a 60 degree angle (to the base of the sacrum I assumed), whereas the average angle for the tailbone is supposed to be 30 degrees. But he said there wasn't much to do about it and given the severity of the injury, I should give it time. The bruising cleared up, however, there proceeded to be intense pain around the tailbone and SI joint. I received one cortisone shot in the tailbone around this time and it offered temporary relief. This is somewhere around the third/fourth month of this ordeal.

At around the fifth month, I moved here to Reno to start a new job. Perhaps a mistake as my old job required me being on my feet the whole day, whereas my new job is sitting at a desk. As the pain persisted, I did a decent job of dealing with pain without medications. I was prescribed vicodin and ambien, and took both relatively infrequently. However, as the pain persisted, I saw another orthopedic surgeon on May 10 2005 who ordered an MRI. The review of this MRI showed some bruising around the sacrum but little else noteworthy.

Over the course of a few months (May-September), I visited a chiropractor regularly. We performed 3 manual realignments of the coccyx intrarectally. Two of the three realignments offered quite a bit of relief, while one was not helpful at all. I also visited massage therapists and accupuncturists. I maintained my own regimen of working out, mostly trying to strengthen the core and keep the rest of the body in shape. I attempted to learn how to swim, but it is so damn hard, and sometimes made the pain worse. I hate good swimmers :)

In August, I visited a back specialist who had performed 3 coccygectomies. He also said these injuries can take forever to heal, and that I shouldn't get too excited if it had only been 9 months. He said it can take a year for these injuries to clear up.

Somewhere around the third week of October, I threw my back out (lumbar area) picking a couple of magazines off the floor. I was on a heat pad for 5 days straight. It was really scary, but eventually cleared up. It seems that 10 months of sitting crooked, using pillows and cushions and never being able to relax finally took its toll. At this point, I started taking the vicodin regularly, and scheduled two more OS appointments.

The first I saw was dying to cut out the tailbone! He literally burst into the room and asked if I wanted the pain gone forever. Huh? He claims to have performed over 20 coccygectomies, although I have yet to verify his record. Does anyone know the best way to check a doctor's track record?

The second was anti-surgery and claimed it had a lower success rate. He prescribed a pain block with a pain specialist and more physical therapy.

That's where I'm at now. And well, I am barely holding things together. In fact, maybe I am not. I am not happy with my performance at work as I can barely get through 10 minutes without thinking of the pain in my ass. Sometimes I think I would be canned if my boss wasn't a close friend. I slowly crave more and more vicodin just to get high enough to escape depression. Bad sign. Or put another way, not good.

I feel like a strong candidate for surgery, however, there are lots of mixed signals out there. And you know, it's a little tough to explain the situation in its entirety to family/friends. On the outside, I am fairly functional. My body has absorbed the pain and I look the same. However, there is nothing so daunting and depressing as the idea that this pain is permanent.

So, if any of you experienced folks have questions, comments or references to literature and research, I'd be much obliged. I think at this point I will try some sort of pain block/cortisone with an eye towards surgery in the future.

Who is the best coccygectomist in the USA?



Updated 2005-11-13

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