A Story of Pain, Learning, and Relief

Perry Campbell - Rpcampbell131@gmail.com

Posted 2012

First, a little background about me: I am a 47 year old male. I am active and fairly athletic for my age. I work out at a gym 3-4 days per week and have for decades. During the non-winter months, I ride a road bicycle for exercise as well. I am of average size and have enjoyed a lifetime of good health. Besides the event I will describe shortly, the only other tailbone area pain I have experienced was about 3 years ago. That pain was mild and short-lived. At the time 3 years ago, I chalked it up to the way I was doing set-ups/abdomen crunches at the time. Once I changed my set-up / crunch technique, the pain went away after about a week. I do not ever remember falling or injuring my tailbone otherwise. That pain was really insignificant in both intensity and duration. However, the pain from the later situation I will describe below was serious. It interfered with almost every part of my life. I stopped some of the activities I use to do with my family, did not sleep well (could only lay on right side), driving was unbearable, flying just as bad, focusing on my work was really difficult, etc. My heart truly breaks for those of you out there who are suffering with this. I have prayed for you and will continue to do so.

November 2011 – February 2012

After two days of working from my home office (I normally work elsewhere), slumped down in a cheap office chair (I have a history of several decades of poor seated postured) and working on a computer, I noticed a pain around my tailbone. Over the next several days, the pain seemed to intensify. Between December 2011 and February of 2012 I visited three different general practitioner type doctors. I could go into lots of details, but I will summarize with this: I had a n X-ray which was negative (showed no abnormalities); as directed by the doctors, took weeks of over-the-counter anti inflammants (Advil); took a prescription for Meloxicam for a month; took a 6-day prescription of an oral steroid; and periodically took some prescription level Tramadol.

Of all that, the 6-days of steroid provided relief while I was taking it, but the pain returned when I stopped taking it. The Tramadol did give a good amount of relief, but I was reluctant to take it…in hindsight, I should have taken it more often. I was concerned my pain was going to last forever and I did not see Tramadol as a "forever" solution, so I did not want to let myself get use to that relief. In hindsight, that was wrong thinking. I suffered a lot more than I needed to. Also during this period I tried pillows with cut-outs which did not help. I did find setting very erect on hard surfaces helped some. Leaning back while seated was unbearable. Soft chairs were unbearable. Seemed the pain was on my tailbone (painful to touch / pressure) and to the right of my tailbone, running up toward my right sacroiliac joint. It hurt bad when transitioning from seated to standing. The pain remained steady. It did not improve but did not get worse.

I put a slab of wood in my car seat and had the seat very erect. I traveled with a slab for airplane seats. All of which helped, but was in no way provided complete relief. I also had a stand-up computer station constructed so I could work at my computer without sitting. I also found that seated with one foot / leg folded under the opposite knee provided a lot of relief.

March 2012 – April 2012

I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon. He did his own x-ray, but they were negative according to him. He prescribed diclofenac sodium at the first of March. The prescription may have helped a very small amount, but the pain was still intense. Since it was not working well, he said to stop taking it at the end of March. He then prescribed Cyclobenzaprine which is a muscle relaxant. It did not help. After two visits with him, in early April, he essentially gave up on me and said he did not what else to do.

When he gave up on helping my situation, I decided to visit one of the doctors I had read about on this website; Dr. Patrick Foye in Newark, NJ (see Doctors and specialists in the USA, New Jersey).

It was a five hour drive to Dr. Foye, but I am very glad I went. If you are suffering from tailbone pain, I highly recommend Dr. Foye. He is thorough, knowledgeable, and caring. The pre-visit paperwork and routine will take some time and effort, but it is worth it. Between Dr. Foye and his assistant they spent a total of about five hours with me. They did a very thorough exam, special seated x-rays, etc. They were thorough in their exam and explanations. Doctor Foye diagnosed me as having a "keel-shaped" tailbone. He noticed on the x-ray that the bottom of my tailbone (when viewed from the side), looked a little wider at the bottom. Bascially, I have a "bone bump" on the rear of my tailbone down near the bottom (later confirmed in an MRI). Dr. Foye believes the bump is either a "bone scar" from the repair my tailbone has done from a soft tissue tearing at the bone contact (ligament) or the bone bump itself caused the tissue between it and my skin to be irritated when I sat.

In either case, Dr. Foye said he believed a steroid injection would provide relief and possibly speed some healing. He was correct. In the weeks of April, while waiting for my appointment with him, my tailbone area did seem to be healing on its own somewhat. When I visited him, my pain was about 25%-35% less than it was the month before. Anyway, he did an injection with his special equipment that allows him to see exactly where he is placing the needle and how the medicine is distributed.

May 2012 – December 2012

I believe the injection did speed the healing. Over the last 7 months, my pain has slowly but steadily lessened. I have taken no medicine since my visit to Dr. Foye. I would say at this point, my pain is about 90% gone. I can now set normally for periods of an hour or so. There is still some pain, but it is quite livable and does seem to be very, very slowly continuing to improve.

The frustrating thing about all of this is not knowing exactly what was been causing all of this pain. I have spent many, many hours researching this and trying to get a definitive answer, but I do not have one. My best guess is that I did somehow tear a soft tissue / ligament material on the right/ rear side of my tailbone. I am also guessing that this healing is taking so long because every time I set down, I restrain the area / tissue. But I do not know that, I may never know. However, I do know:

1. If thing starts hurting in a serious way again; I will get myself to Dr. Foye in short order.

2. God is faithful, even when I am in pain.

Again, I feel so badly for those of you out there who are suffering from this debilitating pain. I wish you well and relief in your future.

Perry Campbell

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