Coccyx removal by Dr Philip Bernini

Christine McGraw -

Posted 2006-04-30

Like a lot of women, my problem began when my last baby was born (July of 2003) ... she was huge and stuck. When the midwife said I would need to really push HARD, boy did I ever! I felt/heard my tailbone snap... and the front of my pelvis opened up as well!! AT the time, birth euphoria really took the pain away, however when it was time to push out the placenta, I knew something wasn't right. I told the midwives I thought my "pusher" was broken, as I couldn't make the muscles work.

Over the following 2 years, I suffered not only the pain of sitting, but also a horrible muscle pain throughout my crotch, due to the wrenching of the muscles when the tailbone broke. The tailbone had broken clean off, and was sort of "hangin" there, pushing back up inside me whenever I sat... anything more than 5 minutes was awful... a long airplane flight proved nearly my undoing! It also caused extreme constipation, as the piece would push in on the bowel, blocking movement.

All of this knowledge was gained after finally having the tailbone removed on Feb 8, 2006. I am indebted to you for providing the information on the dynamic sit/stand xray, which finally showed that yes indeed, I had a real problem!

Before that, I had numerous spinal adjustments, months of physical therapy, internal manipulation, drug therapy (neurontin, high dose naproxen) all which brought no relief and much frustration. (I have to say, until I discovered this website, I was spiraling towards a deep depression. It is unbelievable how exhausting and emotionally debilitating it is to live with chronic pain... my heart goes out to everyone suffering from this!)

The surgery went great... the incision healed cleanly. My experience was as follows:

A lot of post-op pain... first month of recovery was long, however, I got off the narcotics by day 10, and started to notice improvement every day. My doctor told me to do as much as I felt like... which was great, so I did move about. I also forced my self to sit on the toilet, and that was good, as it stretched the scar tissue and I have no problems with any pulling sensations back there.

One thing I did notice, is that the kegel exercise really works the muscles that were previously attached to the tailbone. I did them faithfully and I think that also helped bring circulation to the area, aiding healing.

After the first month, I started to drive/ take care of the family again (4 kids). I am thankful to have had my mom to help me the whole time... I advise anyone with children to line up their help for a month! It was a relief not to worry about them.

SO it is now 2 1/2 months since surgery. My pain is still at a level higher than it was before the surgery, BUT I know I will keep improving. I have begum my physical therapy exercises again, which has shown me that there is still a great deal of muscle tenderness/weakness where the tailbone used to be.

I am trying to walk on the treadmill, with an incline, every day. I also am doing walking lunges, which are really working all of the pelvic muscles.

The thought that even though I still have a good deal of pain, since I know there isn't a tailbone in there causing further injury, helps me to keep the pain in perspective.

I loved my surgeon, Dr Philip Bernini from Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover NH. He has done a number of coccygectomies, and was very confident and competent.

I am so happy to finally have that little bugger out of there, and now that I just have healing to do, I am excited to get back to living, instead of just living with pain. I figure my pain level is where it was about 2 months postpartum, so I am expecting at least a year before I feel close to good again. But that's ok! It can only get better from here!

Thanks so much, Jon... or in my mind, Jon, patron saint of the coccyx!!!

Christine McGraw

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