Bad advice from doctors

Only a small minority of doctors understand coccyx pain and its treatment. Many of the rest have enough sense to refer you on to a doctor who does have some understanding. Unfortunately there are some who instead give their patients seriously misleading advice. Here are some examples reported by a number of occcyx patients.

"You should sit on a ring cushion"

In fact, ring or donut cushions are designed to take pressure off the genitals, and may actually increase pressure on the coccyx. Most patients find a cushion with a cut-out much better than a ring cushion.

"You don't need a physical examination"

But a physical examination can quickly identify some conditions, such as pilonidal sinus, or may show part of the coccyx sticking out. Insist on an examination, or a referral to an orthopedic specialist.

"You don't need x-rays"

X-rays (provided that the radiologist is instructed properly) can show up a misaligned coccyx or other conditions. A dynamic (sit/stand) x-ray is even better, showing up any instability of the coccyx caused by a damaged or weak joint.

"There's nothing you can do except take painkillers"

There is in fact a range of treatments available. If your doctor does not know about these, the best thing you can do is to visit one of the specialists recommended by other patients.

"Cortisone injections are the first-line treatment"

Cortisone injections can often relieve the pain for a few months, but almost always patients report that the pain comes back. Patients who have had internal or external manipulation of the coccyx by an experienced therapist report better outcomes than those treated with cortisone.

"It's all in your mind"

This is one of the worst pieces of advice given by some doctors. Their patient is suffering from chronic pain, unable to live a normal life and possibly having to give up working, and the doctor just brushes it off as 'imagination'. You should not stay with such an incompetent doctor.

"The damage will have healed - what's left is neuropathic pain"

On the contrary, even years after an injury, the coccyx may still be dislocating when you sit, causing pain and inflammation. Chronic inflammation causes loss of bone. Several people who have had their coccyxes removed have been told by their surgeons that the coccyx crumbled away when they tried to remove it.

"Surgery may leave you incontinent of urine or feces or both"

Any surgery carries risks, but incontinence has not been reported as an outcome among the hundreds of cases of coccyx removal reported in medical trials. Any doctor making this statement clearly has no knowledge of the operation.

If your doctor gives you bad advice, they do not have the right experience to treat you. Get a referral to an orthopedic specialist or visit one of the specialists recommended by other patients.

Updated 2014-04-06

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