Coccyx misaligned and fused

Ed, UK -

Posted 2016-05-22

I'm 27 and live a fairly active life (or at least I did). My coccyx pain started in March 2015 (just over a year ago at time of writing). Like a lot of people here, there was no obvious event or trauma that triggered the pain. It would seem that years of sitting with poor posture (I spend around 11 hours/day continuously sat at a desk) eventually took its toll.

At first my GP gave it the usual "you've probably bruised it, rest it for a few days". When I went back complaining that the pain had worsened, I was referred to a specialist orthopaedic consultant/sports physician who specialises in spinal injections. In hindsight, I should have questioned the fact that not a single scan was taken. Instead, the specialist pressed on my coccyx and, when I confirmed that it hurt (a lot), he suggested administering a steroidal injection (paravertebral block) into the coccyx. I actually ended up having three injections over the course of 7 months. The results varied slightly but ultimately they numbed the pain for a week or so before it returned. After the third injection, I realised that this was not a long-term solution and hence started my search for an alternative. (Note: I wouldn't recommend getting injections before exploring other avenues, since there are arguments that the injections speed up calcification of the joints in the coccyx).

It was then that I stumbled across and started poring over fellow sufferers' accounts (A huge amount of credit is due to Jon for putting this site together). It was here that I read about Michael Durtnall's work at the Sayer Clinics in London (see Doctors and specialists in the UK, London). I scheduled an appointment immediately and was seen within a week. Anyone that has looked over this site will no doubt have come across a mention of Michael's work, and it is clear from the various experiences how knowledgeable and professional he is I can now attest to that myself.

The X-rays that were taken in my initial assessment with Michael clearly showed that my coccyx was misaligned (angled too far backwards) and fused. The muscles around my coccyx were solid as a rock. As a result, my coccyx does not curl up and forwards when I sit and I am hence left "sitting on a spike". After reading other sufferers' successful experiences with Michael, I had hoped that I would be pain free after a few sessions. However, mine seems to be a stubborn case and it looks like I'm in for a long period of treatment. I have been seeing Michael and Karolina (a fantastic physio at Sayer clinics) once a week for the last 12 weeks or so and, to be completely honest, it's been slow going. However, the once rock hard muscles around my coccyx are now showing signs of easing, which will hopefully be followed shortly by a reduction in pain in the coccyx itself. I've been told to persevere and will do so since I am desperate to put this behind me. Those of you who have suffered from coccyx pain will know just how debilitating it is, both mentally and physically (not being able to travel, sleep comfortably, go to the cinema, out for dinner, etc things you normally take for granted).

I'll look to provide an update on my recovery in due course, hopefully with some more positive results to report.

For the time being, I'm continuing to use a firm coccyx cushion at work and when travelling (can't sit comfortably for more than 5 minutes without it) and doing lots of stretches and exercises at home to try and keep the muscles around the coccyx loose. I also purchased a Thumper VMTX handheld massager last week. I've only used it a few times so far, but it certainly feels like it does a good job of loosening up tight muscles in the buttocks and around the coccyx, which aids recovery. Those of you who have had treatment from Michael will know that he uses a Thumper mini Pro massager at his clinic. I think this smaller handheld version is good for personal treatment at home since it's easy to hold and manoeuvre behind you. I'm using it in conjunction with massage balls (I place a massage ball on the floor and roll my buttocks over it, targeting any tight areas and adjusting my weight to achieve the required pressure).

I'm also in talks with my employer about getting an adjustable standing desk, although they seem hesitant.

Currently, there are a lot of things that continue to trigger pain in my coccyx, besides sitting. For example, pulling my buttocks upwards or sideways causes pain in the coccyx, as does clenching my buttocks firmly. Lunging deeply forwards or to the side also causes pain. Lying down also irritates the coccyx, and moving from a lying to sitting position is excruciating (with the pain seemingly around the beginning of the coccyx/base of the spine, as opposed to the tip).

I'd be glad to hear advice from anyone who suffers similar symptoms, and I'd be more than happy to answer any questions people might have for me.

Note from Jon Miles:

I emailed a year after this story was posted, to ask for an update, as the long-term outcome of treatment is of great interest. In this case I did not get a reply.

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