Coccyx pain less, but sitting for long periods painful

Helen, UK -

Posted 2018-07-29

I started feeling pain in my tailbone about 5 years ago, in 2013. It started gradually, but after about a year it started to really impinge on my life. I found I couldn't sit for long periods anymore. I saw an osteopath who did one internal manipulation, but when that didn't help with the pain, he didn't know what to advise. I had some physiotherapy which also didn't help. The phsyio thought my coccyx had been pushed really far in and was at the wrong angle (turns out that wasn't that case). I went away travelling for almost a year, during which time the pain worsened, and I returned to London determined to fix it.

Nobody knows exactly what triggered the pain, though it's possible it was caused by a snowboarding fall about 4 years before the pain started. At the time, it hurt for about 2 weeks and then felt better, but it could be that it never healed properly and my body was compensating for the injury since then.

I got a standing desk at work which helped a lot. Plane and car journeys were (still are) the worst. I found most coccyx cushions didn't help much. Using a TENS machine is the only way I can deal with long flights - it really helps with the pain short term, though isn't a long term solution.

I saw another physio who said my hips were twisted and abdominal muscles not strong enough. However, once both those things were rectified, the pain in and around my coccyx did not subside. I saw a chiropractor (listed on this website) - Robert Griffiths (see Doctors and specialists in the UK, London)- for a few months. When the pain wasn't subsiding with treatment, Robert recommended steroid injections, which did not help either. I saw another physio - no help.

Finally I booked in to see London-based chiropractor Michael Durtnall (see Doctors and specialists in the UK, London). I'd been putting it off due to the cost, but after wasting so much money elsewhere, I realised it was silly not to at least try Michael.

He took x-rays and said my coccyx didn't have nearly as much mobility as it should, and my lower back was too curved. He gave me postural advice and did internal manipulation and massaged the area around the coccyx. He showed me how to sit on hard chairs in a way that took the pressure off the coccyx without sitting to one side or cross legged. He advised against sitting on sofas or soft chairs.

I also saw one of the Sayer Clinic physics, Karolina, who did internal pelvic pressure point therapy and deep tissue release.

Michael told me fairly soon into treatment that I wouldn't be a quick-fix. Though he was gradually feeling more movement in the coccyx, it was going to be a very slow road. However, he was confident that he could fix the issue.

I've been seeing Michael nearly every week for just over a year. In the last month or so, the movement in the coccyx finally increased significantly. It started at about 20-25%, and is now at 70-75%.

The pain in my coccyx itself has decreased significantly. However, I still have severe difficulty sitting for long periods of time, as the pain around the coxxyx - in the bum cheeks and lower sacrum - is still intense. Michael said my standing posture is much, much better - I hope that I've corrected it for life.

I stopped seeing Karolina about 3 months ago as I didn't feel it was helping anymore, but have booked in to see Margot (Sayer Clinic manual therapist) while Michael is away for 6 weeks over the summer. The hope is that the pain will dissipate, now that the coccyx is mobile again and with the help of manual therapy.

Update, 2019-09-29

A year or so since seeing Michael Durtnall, I have continued to have pain in the lower sacrum and in the muscles and tendons across the top of the buttocks. The pain is rarely as deep as the coccyx itself, and is very focused a bit higher up, on and around the sacrum. In that sense, I think Michael's treatment was successful. However, when I sit down as I'm in just as much pain as ever, so it hasn't solved my case.

I've seen various treating therapists since then (a physio and a few osteopaths), who have improved things slightly sometimes, but only ever temporarily. I am due to start a course of physiotherapy using MedX Lumbar Back Machines at London Physiotherapy and Wellness Clinic after a recommendation from a friend. I'll send an update if that works.

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