A light at the end of the tunnel

Helen, UK - helsmason@btinternet.com

Posted 2019-09-01

In November 2017 I started to develop pains in my 'sit bones' when sitting. I had commenced a new job in September which was much more sedentary than my previous post. I developed stiffness in my lower back (not unusual sometimes as I have had two lots of back surgery). This released and then came back. Looking back, I had also become constipated. Not long after that I developed some numbness/tingling in two toes on my left foot. My left leg also felt a bit 'gloved'.

I went to see my Doctor. He diagnosed Ischial Bursitis and suggested I sit less. This is quite difficult when you have a new 9-5 (if you're lucky) office job. I did my best not to sit at home and to take telephone calls standing and stand and move as much as I could at work.

I sought some treatment from a local physio who did what she could but was slightly perplexed by my symptoms. I was given stretching exercises and some acupuncture. After about 4 sessions I realised I wasn't improving, in fact I had started to develop some 'odd feelings' in my bladder and also occasionally felt aroused in a horrible and painful way when sitting. I also developed tingling in a couple of toes on my right foot along with numb patches on my right and left legs although no loss of movement.

I returned to the doctor who suggested that as my symptoms were a-typical and he should refer me to a neurosurgeon. When told of the waiting times, I opted to go privately thanks to my Auntie and asked for a referral. I was lucky that in mid-January my employers bought me an adjustable desk and I stood all day which was hard after no sleep and with two odd feet. At night and at the weekends I took to my bed, my husband was fantastic and said just rest as I was the least uncomfortable there and was determined to keep my new job as my son's education came as part of the package. I was lucky if I was getting 2 hours sleep a night; I would jump awake, have to make several trips to the loo for a wee as the sensations in my bladder just weren't right.

I was desperate for an appointment. The neurosurgeon was away until March so I opted for an Orthopaedic Surgeon as I could have an earlier appointment. I developed depression as I had gone from a person who walked 28 miles one day in May 2017 to someone who could barely walk down the road without having to turn back in February 2018. I lost half a stone in weight in six months and frankly looked awful.

I visited the Orthopaedic surgeon who said that he thought it was Coccydynia and suggested MRI and CT scans. I had these. The screws in my back where still in situ and there was no obvious sign of nerve compression. My coccyx was commented upon as unremarkable and the consultant said a steroid injection might help. I left with some amitriptyline and gabapentin and had the first decent night's sleep I had had for weeks. Thanks to my Auntie, I had the steroid injection done in March; I was prepared to try anything and as a colleague had similar symptoms and a seemingly successful outcome, I chose to go ahead. It perhaps loosened the area a little but the pain remained whilst sitting and also while moving.

In the interim, I went back to the doctors. In tears, I asked for a second opinion, bearing in mind I had paid privately for one referral. I felt the doctor was heartless and she said there was no point. When I pointed out I had gone from someone who had walked miles to not being able to walk down the road without pain, she said that this was now my life, these things happen and to up my dose of amitriptyline and gabapentin.

Two weeks later, armed with scans and reports I went back to the physio I first attended. She referred me to a more experienced colleague who worked through my symptoms and tried different manipulations. She was able to lessen the 'odd arousal' feelings I had experienced and I felt like we were getting somewhere but even she was slightly perplexed. Thank you to PhysioCare & Sports Injury Clinic, Ryde, Isle of Wight. After a couple months of weekly treatments, my lovely experienced physio was honest enough to say I had reached a plateau and the limit of her knowledge so I decided, having read numerous accounts of Dr Durtnall and his successes, that despite the cost, I would have to give it a go. I contacted a lady who had written a testimonial on coccyx.org about Sayer Clinics (see Doctors and specialists in the UK, London). She emailed me back and her reply confirmed that I was doing the right thing.

I emailed Sayer Clinics having spoken to Lucie the receptionist. She spoke to Michael for me and he said he was sure he could help me.

I visited Michael in June 2018. Within minutes of meeting him, I felt at ease. He took x-rays, he showed me; it looked as though the top two segments of my coccyx were slightly calcified. After signing all the consents, Michael did internal manipulation where he improved the range of coccyx movement and said my muscles were not as bad as he had expected and I thank my Isle of Wight physio for this. He said my range of coccyx movement had gone from around 35 to around 75 (degrees or percent, I am not sure) and he was really pleased. I then had some external manipulation followed by the 'thumper' massage machine. I left feeling as though I had met someone who understood. He had made me laugh a lot and filled me with hope.

I went back the following morning, having stayed in London overnight, and received internal manipulation again. Dr Durtnall was happy that I had only reverted to 55 and was able, he said, to leave me with 85 range when I left. Once again, I had external manipulation and the thumper machine. He instructed me how to sit, and stand and gave me some exercises and told me to be very active. I duly came home via the shop that sells coccyx wedges. I worked hard at the walking, Pilates and exercises.

I saw Michael again 3 weeks later, there wasn't really any improvement. As he was off on holiday late July he suggested I see Marta De Oliveira, he seemed confident that when I saw him again in September there would be some improvement. The first time I saw Marta she took a very detailed medical history but also gave me some treatment and exercises. Marta is amazing. I realised I had experienced pelvic pain for a few years but had ignored it. I saw her again three weeks later and three weeks after that. I started to feel less discomfort. I saw Michael and Marta in September and was happy to report an improvement. I was sitting with less discomfort and the numbness in my feet was much improved. I thought I would continue to see Marta every 3 weeks and by December she was happy to not see me for 6/8 weeks. I would say by this point I was about 75-80% better. Over Christmas, I did start to notice some niggles and pains in my lower back again and unfortunately some numbness again in my toes but kept on moving and doing my exercises. I put it down to increased activity, travelling in a car up to the Midlands for Christmas and just being more active. An attempt at Boogie Bounce left my left leg even more numb so Marta and I decided this was not good exercise for someone who has had two back operations and to stick to swimming and Pilates.

I discussed with Marta about seeing Michael again too, having not seen him for six months. His first treatment thereafter made me realise I had gone backwards a little but following the treatment there was improvement. I'm continuing treatment with both as each treatment works differently and I definitely need both practitioners at the moment. I am staying active and am pretty confident that I will get back to where I was before Christmas and even better.

I will try to remember to update this but please, please give Michael and his team a try. I was at rock bottom but just meeting Michael and knowing he had treated many others like me, started my road to recovery both physically and mentally. Thank you also Jon for an excellent website; there is so much to read and so much hope contained in your web pages for when someone who really feels they are never going to be well again and whom the GP has pretty much written off.

Good Luck

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