Relief at last!

Darrin -

Posted 2011-05-01

I thought it would be nice to share a positive story with everyone reading the stories here. There is hope!

Around 18 months ago I had sudden and severe pain in the region of the tailbone. It came on suddenly one day when standing up from of my computer chair. My theory at the time was that I had injured it while biking. I do rather extreme biking and routinely bang myself up, including coming off of the pedals while in the air and then landing hard on the seat. So at the time, despite having severe pain, I figured it was no big deal. I decided to wait it out.

Waiting it out turned out to be quite painful. I was in constant pain and the pain was even worse when sitting. It was possible to sit for short periods of time, but only if leaning forward. It was bad enough that I rearranged my office at work and stood in front of the computer all day. At meetings I simply stood. Restaurants and the homes of friends were a challenge. Try watching the superbowl standing up! Ironically, biking was somewhat tolerable, being bent forward instead of sitting flat.

With all of the standing, my knees also started to complain. At that point I had suffered a few months of pain and could no longer stand or sit. Ok, time to see the doctor I guess. An x-ray revealed no break according to my GP. No further advice was offered. A month later I went directly to a orthopedic surgeon and again received the same advice. Not feeling like I was being taken seriously, I switched to a different GP. She had me see another ortho guy and produced one new piece of advice, go to a pain clinic.

The solution at the pain clinic was to inject anti-inflammatory drugs around the coccyx. After a series of injections, I hadn't noticed much if any change and was again demoralized.

Nobody had yet offered a real diagnosis or treatment plan. By now I had read every word available online about coccydynia. My imagination was running wild and those videos of pilonidal cysts certainly didn't help. The list of possibilities was crushing and I was quite depressed. I was in constant pain and there didn't seem anywhere to turn.

Finally I contacted one of the therapists listed on this site. It wouldn't be convenient given their location, but I was willing to try anything. The person I ended up being treated by was Lisa Lennon at the Center For Rehabilitation Services (see Doctors and specialists in the USA, Pennsylvania). It was over an hour drive and required missing time from work and then sitting in bad rush hour traffic, but I went anyway. Twice a week I would go in for about a half hour of treatment. That treatment involved external and internal massage. You would think I would be embarrassed by such a thing, but by now I would have done anything for relief.

At first the massage was quite painful. I had no idea that tense muscles could be that painful. Basically, I had been experiencing constant muscle cramps for over a year. If you've ever had a leg cramp, imagine that in the region of the tailbone constantly for a year. The pain was bad enough that it didn't feel like any cramp that I had ever experienced before. That's why the concept of simple muscle tension hadn't occurred to me. The pain seemed much too severe. Over the course of a few months, the treatment became less painful. I was also doing physical therapy exercises to strengthen core muscles that were deemed to be weak. I'm not sure if weakness caused the condition or the other way around. But either way, I stuck to the program. My insurance has run out for physical therapy this year but I am sticking with the exercises and techniques learned during treatment.

Throughout therapy and afterward, the pain decreased gradually. I was able to start sitting at work again. And then finally I was able to stop using the coccyx cushions at home, in the car, and at work. I can even go to restaurants again! I've become familiar with the pain of muscle tension and massage myself whenever I feel it coming on. It isn't gone completely, but I am no longer preoccupied by constant pain. (I paused while typing this to massage my hamstrings that were about to start a chain reaction of cramps.) There are hours on end that I can go without being bothered. Given the rate of improvement, I suspect that I will be reasonably pain free within 6 months. I no longer live with a dark cloud of constant pain and depression!

To those out there reading this, hopefully your stories have a happy resolution as well!

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