I have found reading other people's stories on this site so valuable and informative that it helped me to decide to visit Dr Michael Durtnall at Sayer Clinics for diagnosis and treatment in London. Seeing both him and Marta, the remarkable Women's Health Physiotherapist also at Sayer Clinics on a very regular basis have contributed to my recovery so far of about 85%, and we are anticipating a full 100% recovery.
It has taken a lot of time and expense as I live in North Wales, as well as a lot of commitment to daily stretching and strengthening exercises, along with weekly massages in my own local area, but with everyone's wonderful support I am delighted to be getting my health and life back again.
My story began in February 2014 following a Hysterectomy. I first became aware of a severe pain when sitting in my car a few weeks after my operation, feeling as if I had a spike sticking up in me. I had no pain though at all like many others here when rising from sitting to standing, only when sitting. Initially I thought that perhaps it was my new car which had been delivered whilst I was recovering. After several unsuccessful attempts at trying alternative cars, I saw a local NHS Physio who was not at all helpful, only advising me to change my posture. By this time I had returned to work, and it was becoming increasingly painful. At this point I bought a Harley Design Coccyx Wedge Cut Out cushion, and I can honestly say this has become my best friend over the 2 years, providing huge relief. I now have several for the office, car and at home, and it has become my new fashion statement carrying it around with me everywhere I go, including on my many trips to London!
After deciding to visit my GP for further advice, I was given a referral to an Orthopedic consultant, but not a spinal specialist. As this was an 11 month waiting list, I decided to start doing my own research and came across this very helpful website. I paid a visit to Dr Scott Middleton at the Salford Chiropractic Clinic (see Doctors and specialists in the UK, Lancashire) for internal manipulation. Scott advises his patients not to have more than 4 treatments with him unless those four have provided relief. Although his treatments helped for a couple of days after each session, the pain always returned.
After reading the excellent reviews about Michael Durtnall (see Doctors and specialists in the UK, London), I therefore decided to pay a visit to his clinic in London for an assessment. Michael immediately put me at my ease, treating me with compassion and dignity. He undertook standing x-rays which showed that my sacroccygeal joint was extended 20 degrees with moderate anterior joint calcification. His examination showed that my scaroccygeal joint was immobile and moderately extended without very much movement, effectively creating a spike which hurt whenever I sat on it.
Michael worked on improving these issues at fortnightly appointments from September 2014 onwards, although things were delayed for a while at the end of 2014 due to a bout of Shingles – luck was not on my side in 2014!
During this time, based on Michael's advice, I also was able to utilise the Access to Work scheme, with my work kindly purchasing a fantastic electric sit to stand desk, coupled with a RH Logic 400 Ergonomic Office Chair with a Coccyx cut out. Both have proved invaluable, and to this day I still use them along with my cushion. In fact I only use the desk with me standing at it; the only sitting I do even now is when I am in meetings and then I use my new chair or cushion.
In February 2015, in addition to seeing Michael, I started to see the wonderful Senior Physiotherapist Marta Dias de Oliveria for deep tissue massage of my peri-coccygeal gluteal muscles, ligaments & soft tissues. As we worked together every 2 weeks, it was becoming apparent that one of the causes of my coccyx related problems was that my pelvic muscles had gone into spasm following my hysterectomy and another gynaecological procedure just 2 months earlier.
In the Spring of 2015 I eventually saw the Orthopedic Consultant on the NHS, who was not a spinal specialist. He was pleased to note the improvements I was experiencing as a result of the manual manipulation and physiotherapy from Sayer Clinics, and he advised that if things did not continue to improve that he could do a manipulation under anaesthetic (MAU) with a steroid injection. However he said that the success rate varied between 10-100% and he could not explain why in some cases it was helpful and in others not. This clearly didn't inspire confidence in me and I am so glad that I have resisted this, for I felt that this would only mask and not solve the problem for me.
As a result of fortnightly treatments by Michael and Marta, daily stretches and exercises, weekly massages in between appointments and lots of walking, by June 2015 I had experienced a significant improvement in my coccyx mobility, reduction in pain levels and reduction in my pelvic floor muscles tightness up to about 75%. From September 2015 as my health continued to improve, my appointments moved to every three weeks. Both Marta and Michael work externally and internally, always with care and I have never experienced any pain during their sessions.
However, during this time I started to develop other symptoms, such as pain and swelling in one of my feet as well as constant lower back pain and severe tightness in my upper back. I am delighted to say that continued massaging by Marta of my hysterectomy scar, coupled with extensive work on strengthening my core muscles have all helped to reduce the lower back pain, although the other symptoms remained.
Initially we thought the cause may have been musculoskeletal but as the treatment and time progressed, the nature of the symptoms and my slow response to the treatment suggested that the problem could have another cause. A referral to a Rheumatologist ruled out a variety of genetic autoimmune related disorders running in my family and a visit to my Gynaecologist has ruled out any hormone related issues.
Following a suggestion by another practitioner at Sayer Clinics in January 2016 that my tight muscles and swelling may be linked to a gluten intolerance, I looked into that and have cut it out completely. Since then I am delighted to say that my muscular related tightness and associated pain has significantly improved, with both Marta and Michael also noticing less inflammation and soreness in my muscles. I am now probably about 85% back to my full health, and I am currently visiting Sayer Clinics once a month.
The treatment and advice I have received has been excellent and I am truly grateful for all their help to get me to where I am today. I will be continuing with their help and advice to aim to get to 100% as soon as possible. Both Marta and Michael have continued to treat me with care, compassion, dignity and utmost professionalism. I have laughed and cried with them both, and have got to know them as people as well as specialists, all of which has helped hugely in my recovery. I have completely committed all my time to my recovery over the past 2 years and it has been well worth the sweat and tears to be on the road to recovery and to getting back to full health. I am looking forward to being able to start road cycling again, hopefully in the Spring!
I can't thank Michael and Marta enough for getting me to where I am now - thank you so so much. I would strongly recommend anyone with coccyx pain to go and see them both.
Just wanted to give a further update following my last one 16 months ago in February 2016. I am now delighted to say that I am now 95% - 100% recovered!
I am now able to sit without using my cushion in my car, in meetings, or in restaurants – in fact I don’t use it at all, although it took me some time to wean myself off it after so long! It’s also really lovely when out walking or sightseeing to be able to sit down on benches without thinking about sitting too much. A few months ago I started cycling again, and also attempted my first long distance car journey of 3 hours each way on the same day. Both of these were successes, which now means that for the first time in over 4 years I am finally able to return to Cornwall next week, a journey in the car of almost 6 hours from North Wales. Although I am naturally a little apprehensive about that, of course I continue to be diligent when travelling and cycling these distances, stopping every 45 minutes to stretch and move my muscles, so I am sure I will be fine even on this longer distance.
I also continue to use my sit to stand desk at work – this will now be a permanent feature in my office! I also continue to move around every 45 minutes when in meetings at work, and now everyone has got used to it. In fact, it’s certainly helping to encourage everyone else to be more active, so good to know there are some added benefits.
I continue to do my regular stretching exercises, although not every day as I used to – maybe 2-3 times a week. However, I do walk a minimum of 10,000 steps each day, and continue with regular weekly massages to help ensure my muscles remain relaxed. I combine this with continuing with my gluten and dairy free lifestyle, both of which I discovered were contributing to my muscular tightness, which in turn was causing my coccyx to become stuck.
In addition to this, I have also continued to visit Sayer Clinics on a monthly basis to see the wonderful Marta and brilliant Michael for their physio & coccyx related treatment and advice. Both have continued to be fantastic, and have been a wonderful source of guidance and inspiration. I continue to do the exercises they recommend, and it has genuinely been fantastic to have travelled the journey back to almost full health with them.
Once again, I can't thank Michael and Marta enough for getting me to where I am now - thank you so so much. I would strongly recommend anyone with coccyx pain to go and see them both.