Back in the saddle again


Posted 2007-08-05

I would like to tell my story for three reasons: 1) to thank for pointing me in the right direction 2) to affirm that there is hope even after several years of suffering and 3) to inform people that their problem may not necessarily be what they think it is.

After seven years of intermittent suffering (one recovery followed by an ill-advised rollerskating accident we won't go into), a family Dr., two orthopedists, two pain Drs., and lots of advice, I turned to the list of professionals on this website. Dr. Vernon Patterson in Avon, Ohio (see doctors and specialists in the USA), is only 1 1/2 hours away so I grabbed my cushion and sat in the passenger seat while my wife drove (so I could move to the back seat as needed).

Dr. Patterson was friendly, helpful, and authoritative. However, my experience was different from Kathy's on this site. Dr. Patterson said that many people who think they have coccydynia really do not. After an x-ray and a thorough exam, he concluded that the problem was not the coccyx but the muscles around that area. He prescribed a muscle relaxer, an anti-inflammatory, ice, and a physical therapist. He also said that I was relying too much on my doughnut cushion and I should wean myself off of it.

That's where the miracle part came in. I work downtown Youngstown and the closest physical therapist on my provider list was Jean McConnell of Pinnacle Health Concepts (see doctors and specialists in the USA), about two blocks away. Without even taking my pants off, she moved down my spine, concluded that there was a sacral tilt, and with an undramatic flick of her thumb put it back in place. I didn't think she accomplished anything until she told me to sit down, and several minutes after I should have been hurting I still felt normal. After all this time that I was willing to have anyone do anything to me to make me better, a minor adjustment did the job. The muscles were contracting because they were trying to compensate for the imbalance. She then spent a half dozen sessions teaching me stretching exercises that I need to do for life to improve my posture so I sit on the correct part of my body, and massotherapists Jim and Dave helped to condition the muscles even further.

I'm still not perfect, but since that first day with Jean I have not used my assortment of doughnuts. I keep finding them around the house and I don't know what to do with them. So before trying something drastic (fortunately the last orthopedist I saw was unwilling to do a coccygectomy as the risks outweigh the benefits), a Dr. or a PT who understands the sacral area may just have something to offer. I feel like I have a new lease on life.

Update, 2008-08-17

Last year I wrote about how Dr. Vernon Patterson near Cleveland and Jean McConnell in Youngstown turned my life around - Dr. Patterson through comprehensive diagnostics and suggestions, and ultimately Jean through manipulation and stretching.

A few months ago I had a minor relapse. We had a garage sale and for three days I sat in a chair that folds up into a bag. They are comfortable and convenient, and even have cup holders. But they do not allow for good posture, and by Sunday I was feeling like a victim. I'll get you, chair-in-a-bag, if it's the last thing I do.

Of course this time I knew where to turn. Besides the stretching and Jim's massotherapy, Jean made me change my walking habits after 40 or so years. I have always been pigeon-toed, and the inside of my shoes have worn out before the rest of them. Jean was able to demonstrate how my unbalanced walking caused me to overuse some muscles and underuse the others, which may have played a role in developing the problem in the first place. She made me practice a new walk. Jim watched me leave my appointment and snitched on me when I relapsed, and over a few weeks I reversed a long-standing bad habit.

So just a few more things for readers to ponder: consider how gait and posture could affect sitting ability, and avoid the chair-in-a-bag.

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