Coccyx removal 30 October 2012

Donna -

Posted 2012-11-04

So it began in Dec. 2009, I was 7 months pregnant with my little Ruby. I was in a rush and was going faster than usual down the stairs, m feet were cold and slipped on the first few steps. I landed straight onto my bottom - this is where the nightmare began! At first I was very upset and worried about my pregnancy so the pain was put to the back of my mind as I checked in with midwives on the phone who reassured me that the baby would be fine (as she was). Couldn't sit for a few days after the fall, which gradually turned into not being able to sit for comfortably or for more than 5 /10 minutes at a time. I thought it would ease off or become less painful over time but it didn't! So as I went onto have my daughter, the labour was very painful all in the coccyx area; and in the back of my mind I felt it may possibly break during delivery, so I opted for a c section.

After the birth I suffered very badly, getting in and out of bed to feed the baby was so painful on the tailbone, sitting for feeds I used to cry with pain.

When I finally plucked up the courage to go to the go to discuss the pain, I was told it was the strain on my body from pregnancy and what would she like her to do! I said x ray please and so off I went!

I wasn't Surprised to know that it hadn't shown anything, but I was disappointed as I felt like it was in my mind. I went on a few months more in agony and decided to go back again. This time I came away with tramadol which I was reluctant to have but had to try something. At first it was a help but after a while I began to feel too spaced out on it so stopped taking it after about a month or so.

So I was resigned to putting up with the pain for a few months longer before, again, I returned to the go and this time I was referred for physio, which was a total waste of time! So, resigned back to pain I did some research into what other treatments I could have ( none of such had been OFFERED!) I came across steroid injections and saw that quite a few people had had relief from them. So this time I made an appointment with a more senior doctor at the practice, and told him I wanted him to send me( in a way that meant no negotiation!) he went through what had made me come to that conclusion and agreed to send me. These were carried out by a pain management clinic, so I had to see the doctor and go through it all with him. He agreed it was worth a try. For these types of injections I had to go into theatre and the needle is guided by fluroscopic x ray as it goes in. and so how is the pain of the injection? Yes, it hurts!! After the initial pain I had relief from the symptoms, I felt like I was on cloud 9 it was the first time I could sit normally on my bottom for so long!

Months went by and I was able to start going to the gym. After about 4 months the injection began to wear off so I was booked into have another injection. When I went to see the consultant, we discussed the x ray that I had been referred for by the GP, I was asking him how if I had a clear/normal x ray, was I getting so much pain? He showed me the x ray and I could clearly see the whole of the coccyx had not been x rayed, it cut off the last few joints at the end!

Cutting a long story short (ha!) I eventually had a further 2 steroid injections which cured my pain for short whiles. Eventually the pain management consultant told me I couldn't have anymore and he would now discuss with an orthopaedic surgeon if I was a candidate for surgery or not it told me that surgery was a very final option and that it involved a long recovery and wasn't guaranteed to work.

I felt annoyed because I wasn't told there was a limit on the coccyx injections, they worked for me so I could have carried on having them as they did relieve the pain, but my own research into this proved that over time the joint would thin and I would probably be left with a worse coccyx then I started with- so eventually surgery would have been the joy option I was left with. Taking all this on board, I agreed to be put forward for surgery.

In the meantime I had become so depressed from it all, I visited the GP to see if I could get some anti depressants and he hurried along my referral as I hadn't heard anything.

They had planned my operation to be carried out at a private hospital- this made me feel a lot better knowing that I would be well looked after and would be in good hands. I had a meeting with the consultant to check my suitability, I saw Dr McCutchan at Goring Hall Hospital on Worthing (UK). At the consultation he said he would remove all of the coccyx. We set the date for a few months time.

During this time I kind of panicked a bit and thought had I really tried everything I could to stop the pain? Did I really want to go through with this type of surgery? I sought a chiropractor for some advice. She took a standing x ray and said the coccyx looked healthy. This threw doubt into my mind , but of course it would look healthy, I was STANDING, the pain happens when I SIT!!

So now I had done all I could to find an alternative treatment and I was prepared for surgery.

On the day

Arrived at the hospital- feel so lucky, very nice room just like a hotel- this is a good place to recover. Tv, en suite, fan on the wall nice big room.

Feel totally nervous; but have to do this because I want to be pain free, cuddle my children without pain,sit down without doing the wincing face when I stand so I'm doing it!!


Woke up and felt comfortable, nothing like imagined the pain to be at all, I envisaged total agonising pain but this was far from it. I was having oxygen, was in recovery for about 20 mins and went up to my room. Saw my mum and had a cuddle. I was sore as I was Laying flat on my back. Unfortunately my consultant had failed to mention to the nurses that I was allowed to be mobile ( as I was desperate for a wee) I didn't have a catheter . The nurse said she couldn't get me up herself until she had been advised so I would need to use a bedpan- NOTE if you are considering surgery, take my advice and stay away from bedpans!! This was the most painful thing ever as it wasn't flat and I had to lay on it and it was very painful!! If they haven't already given you one to use, ask to borrow a raised toilet seat whilst in hospital, it's so much easier than using a normal toilet.

Keeping on top of your pain relief should be the nurses main priority. Every 3-4 hours . A mix of roam oramorph ( liquid morphine) tramadol, co-codamol, diclophenac should do the trick for you.

I found it most comfortable to lay on my side with a pillow between my knees trying to keep as much weight as I possibly could from the surgery site. I have been lucky enough to not have any bruising or weeping from my wound.

I am on day 2 and I had my husband take a picture to show you. Today I can bend a little, get up and wash etc. doing really well. I will update to Jon daily for a week with pictures....


Update, 2012-11-18

My recovery had been going well, have no visible bruising but it does feel bruised in the buttock area. I have had the nurse check the wound 1 week post op and she said it looked fine (I had removed the dressings myself as they were uncomfortable) the nurse said it looked good. Over the next couple of days it started to burn and I was worried that it had become infected, and the wound being in such a difficult place to keep clean made it worse! I accidentally caught one stitch whilst on the loo and had been recovering well until then. I haven't been taking things as slowly as I should have - and on the next wound check the nurse said the wound wasn't healing as it should, the stitches weren't closing the wound. She swabbed it and dressed it so I'm waiting for the result now!!

On the plus side, I have been sitting for short periods and as far as I can tell, only have surgery pain and not coccyx pain so it's looking good!!


Update, 2012-12-23

I'm now 7 weeks post op. I have had on off infections and am still having the wound dressed twice a week. I had to have some stitches removed because they weren't dissolving and thus becoming infected. Let me tell you that was sooo painful!! I cried like a baby!! But it's feeling better and I'm driving now, only short distances. I still have pain when I sit but I guess ill have to grin and bear it because I know it'll be sore for quite some time, but so far I am pleased with my recovery. I knew it would be slow from reading posts on here so I guess I braced myself for that.

It's all definitely been worth it!

I am happy for anyone who wants to ask questions etc to email me....

Note from Jon: I had the same experience with the 'dissolving' stitches - they didn't dissolve, they caused irritation, and the wound opened up. The local nurse who removed mine (it was like a long length of nylon fishing line) told me that she often has to do this with 'dissolving' stitches, but surgeons don't realise they don't dissolve because they are taken out by nurses at local doctor's surgeries.

Update, 2013-04-07

6 months post op

I have still not fully healed, there is a tiny area that has not progressed for a out 6 weeks. I still attend the nurses for packing and dressing, this was everyday, to x3 weekly to hopefully just x1 weekly from now on. I have had about 4 infections in the wound since the operation, but always caught early thanks to my vigilant nurse who I have struck up a good friendship with (as I have been with her since Nov 12!!) I think I probably now hold the record for the longest healing time :-/

As the healing process has somewhat halted I am being referred to a skin specialist so when I have info from them I will update more.

There have been some bad days, painful days and sleepless nights since the op and I have had a very long recovery time, but I am so glad I went through with the operation, my quality of life has been improved so much! I actually went to the cinema yesterday and could sit without fidgeting/shifting.

Good luck to anyone biting the bullet to have the op, I don't look back!!


Update, 2013-05-12

Time for an update!!

I am now 7 months post op. my wound has still not fully healed and was referred back to the consultant rather than skin specialist.

He has told me that I will need to have an operation to open it up as he thinks there may be an undissolved stitch or something stopping it healing. I'm very upset about this!!

Operation is on 28th May so will update then :(

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