My tailbone journey

KF, USA

Posted 2018-07-08

I am a 58 year old female. I have had a hysterectomy and have IBS-C (chronic constipation). I had had some falls previous to the pain developing, but so long ago (20+ years) that I'm not sure that they were part of the trouble. I had also had low back pain off and on for many years, and a car accident in 2013 which resulted in whiplash and overall back pain. I went through a year's worth of physical therapy for that accident and although I wasn't 100% better, I was functioning and had no tailbone pain.

My tailbone pain developed about four years ago, in late 2014 when both of my parents became ill. I was spending a lot of time driving and sitting in hospital and rehab facility rooms with them. I tried every OTC painkiller out there, special tailbone cushions, TENS unit, lidocaine patches, ointments, heating pads, regular and infrared, and ice.

I tried to ignore the tailbone pain, thinking and hoping it would go away, but it became so intense and unrelenting that I saw my primary care physician. She prescribed pain medication and I took it occasionally, but not often because of my need to be clearheaded while driving and making decisions about my parents. Since that route didn't work, I revisited my PCP and she gave me my first shot of cortisone in March 2015. Miracle of miracles! I was pain-free almost immediately and that relief lasted almost exactly a year.

In February 2016, I had my second cortisone shot. Same deal, immediate relief which lasted around a year. In February 2017, I had my third cortisone shot, immediate relief. At my doctor's suggestion, I had an x-ray of my tailbone. It showed no fracture. No reason for the pain. I had a year of pain relief with this shot of cortisone. With each cortisone shot, I was hoping and praying that the pain would be gone forever.

In February 2018, my pain returned. I visited my PCP again. She offered the cortisone again, if I wanted it. Well, I wanted it, but also knew that my pain would return again in a year or even less. I refused the cortisone. We agreed that we needed to find out what was going on down there. So, I had an MRI of my tailbone. They found some slight abnormalities, but nothing that would cause the pain I was experiencing.

I wanted a real fix, not another bandaid. My husband is retiring and we want to travel and live life, not lie down because of the pain and exhaustion that came with my almost constant pain. I have been in great despair at times due to my pain, crying because I don't want to live the rest of my life this way. I have been prescribed different antidepressants to try to alleviate some of my pain unsuccessfully. I am not taking antidepressants now.

I consulted with my PCP and decided that physical therapy would be the way to go. After extensive research, I found a PT that specialized in pelvic floor and tailbone therapy. I visited her for about four times with a little relief, but knew that it wasn't working as it was mostly soft tissue work and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles through pilates. I knew it was a good start but wasn't really what I needed. She suggested Dr. Brian Chan in Seattle, a chiropractor who specialized in tailbones (see Doctors and specialists in the USA, Washington). I had read about him on coccyx.org., but I was resistant because he was a male and I am a female and his treatment requires some very "personal" interaction (in other words, he does internal manipulation of the tailbone through the rectum). I saw my PT a couple more times and became convinced that I needed to see Dr. Brian. I made my appointment with him.

Dr. Brian made me very comfortable immediately. I could have my husband present with me if I chose (which I didn't). A female staff member would be in the room while the procedure took place. He would have a male present if I were a man. I had my first treatment the first time I saw him. I didn't have to fully disrobe for the procedure, just lower my pants a bit and was draped. You are facedown on a chiropractic table for the procedure.

Dr. Brian communicates with you throughout throughout the procedure and allows you to take breaks when it becomes painful (and it is painful at times). The procedure is tailbone movement to mobilize the tailbone and break up any scar tissue. There is also soft tissue work which is stretching the muscles that hold your tailbone in place. Most of the time my pain was in the 4-5 out of 10 range.

I was feeling pretty good after 4 visits and my husband and I took a road trip which required sitting for about 4 hours. I had a major flare up and when I saw Dr. Brian a few days later I was still in a lot of pain. This was my most painful treatment. My pain was up to an 8 at times during the treatment, but when I walked out of there I felt much better.

Dr. Brian Chan in located in the Chinatown area of Seattle. My visits lasted around an hour. That is consulting and treatment time. I was advised to walk for about 45 minutes after each treatment.

FYI this procedure is not billed through your insurance. Most patients are seen 2-3 times. I have seen Dr. Brian 5 times and will follow up in 5 weeks. It is not intended to be a weekly or monthly treatment the way you see a regular chiropractor. He will see me in the future if I get back into tailbone trouble though which eases my fears.

I am not 100% better yet. I do feel hope and excitement at my future whereas before I was skeptical and depressed. I am seeing another chiropractor for my low back pain which is SI joint related and am treating my constipation as best as I can as I feel this contributes to the tailbone pain. I am trying to be more active and not sit as that causes me pain. As I sit here at my desk, I have no tailbone pain, just low back pain. I'll try to follow up to let you know more long term results.

Update, 2019-09-15

I am now 60 years old. It's been a year and a little over 2 months since I wrote my original story for coccyx.org. My story has basically not changed. I am mostly painfree in my tailbone, but have occasional flares. They usually occur after a lot of sitting or sometimes a lot of standing. I have to maintain my stretching and do deep kegel exercises to maintain the mobility in my tailbone and I get a massage about every three weeks to keep my lower back, sacrum and tailbone ligaments as loose as possible.

I have thought a few times about returning to Doctor Brian Chan for a "tune up", but my pain has resolved with the above practices. I still recommend Dr. Brian. He has given me long term pain relief, while not perfect is definitely manageable. If it becomes unmanageable, I can guarantee that he will be the first call I make!

Hope this update helps someone out there who is suffering make the decision to get treatment. Take care!

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