Broken tailbone during childbirth and Tarlov Cyst

Meagan, USA -

Posted 2016-05-01

After almost a week of "prodromal labor", my water finally broke on the morning of September 19th, 2014, so my husband and I headed to the hospital! I was happy things were finally moving along, because I had been having 5-7 minute contractions every night for 5 nights in a row but they would dissipate by morning. It was exhausting! And painful. After going through labor, I now know why that was happening, but at the time, I did not understand what was causing it.

Upon arrival, the doctors discovered that my daughter was in a posterior (aka: "sunny side up") position. They weren't overly concerned, but after a few more hours of labor, they tried to flip her around. However, as they were trying to turn her from the outside, she pressed on her cord in the womb and her heart rate dropped drastically, so they abandoned the maneuver and she rotated back into the posterior position again. She still hadn't turned on her own when it came time to push, so after 2.5 hours, they used forceps to help deliver her. I sat up to hold onto the bar and be ready for their instructions on when I needed to push, and suddenly felt an IMMENSE amount of pressure on my lower back. Being a first time mother, I just assumed it was normal (and the epidural was only effective on my right side) so I kept pushing, even though it was very painful. However, after another push with the forceps, I felt, and audibly heard, a very loud popping noise that was evidently my tailbone breaking at the moment my baby passed over it. She was an average sized baby - 7 lbs 12 oz - but I think that the combination of my sitting position, her posterior position, the forceps, and my small frame/pelvis - 5' 2" 110 lbs - it was too much for my poor coccyx. I'll never forget the way it sounded and felt when it broke. It makes me cringe just typing it! It was horribly painful for several days after that and I couldn't stand or even sit up. After 5 days in the hospital, I was released to go home, but it was a very long recovery at home with a newborn. Standing after sitting was some of the most pain I've ever experienced. Sitting on harder surfaces was less painful than soft, and side nursing was definitely they only way I could feed my daughter for the first several weeks. The NSAIDs I was prescribed didn't seem to help at all with the pain and I could barely move around to care for my baby!

Fast forward to about 3 weeks later: I had a few X-Rays and physical examinations done to determine the treatment for my tailbone. It was confirmed that it was broken and there was a visible crack in the lower half of the coccyx bones. I tried to avoid sitting as much as I could to let it heal, and also used my TENS unit whenever I could, but neither did much for my pain.

Fast forward another 4 months, to January 2015: I could finally move around a little more, but it still hurt so much, so I went back to the chiropractor for help. It wasn't relieving my pain, so I sought out a physical therapist and she began treating my pelvic floor muscles and coccyx. I also had severe tearing from the birth that worsened my pain in my coccyx. I found some relief over the next several months with her, however a lot of the pain still lingered, especially when sitting or carrying anything heavy (i.e. a car seat with a growing baby in it!).

In September 2015, one year after my daughter had been born, I was still having a lot of pain, so I had 3 MRIs scheduled to determine why. The images showed that I had a 3 cm tarlov cyst on the left side of my coccyx. Because I do not have any images before I broke my tailbone, there is no way to know for sure if I had this cyst before, but it is likely that it formed as a result of trauma to the bone/spinal region. These cysts are often asymptomatic, but sometimes can cause problems, so I began seeing an array of spine specialists to figure out how to treat it, if we should at all. Most people I saw did not have any patients whose cyst was the reason they were having pain, and some had never even heard of these types of cysts, so I felt like I went in circles for months with no answers. I eventually landed at a back pain specialist here in Denver that suggested I try corticosteroid injections to treat the nerve pain while leaving the cyst alone.

So, fast forward again to February 2016: I had the first round of steroid injections. It was very painful for 2-3 days after the operation. The operation itself was also pretty painful, but I was more numb during the procedure than I was in the days following, so it was worse for me once the numbing agent wore off. The steroid took affect a few days after that and I felt some relief but, to my dismay, it returned about a week later. So, I went back on March 25, 2016 for the second round of injections. The second procedure was slightly more painful than the first, but I think that was mainly due to the amount of steroid that was injected. My doctor wanted to cover the entire area of the sacrum and coccyx with medicine, while being careful to work around my cyst. Surprisingly, I felt amazing when I left there that day and in the days following. I was more numb this time around and felt relief more strongly than last time, but it returned again after only one week. I feel so discouraged!!! I have a follow up appointment next week to see if I should do a third round of injections, but I am afraid they are going to tell me it isn't worth doing since it doesn't seem to be helping me. If that is the case, I am going to give acupuncture a try before I consider surgery since that is the last option for me. I have heard so many mixed results about surgery so I am extremely hesitant. Also, I want to eventually have another child, but I am so terrified about going through pregnancy with a painful tailbone.

If you have any experience with any of this and have any suggestions or advice, please contact me! Thank you!

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