What is a coccygectomy?
You have been suffering from coccyx pain or tailbone pain for a while. You've heard that there are options to help reduce the pain you're feeling in this area, and one of those options is having a coccygectomy.
So, what is a coccygectomy? If you're considering having this tailbone surgery, you've undoubtedly arrived at this decision after much pain and contemplation. A coccygectomy is basically a tailbone removal surgery that includes the removal of all or some of the coccyx due to injury. The coccyx may have been injured in a variety of ways, including: sports, falling and child birth. Once the tailbone pain becomes unbearable and your doctor has exhausted all avenues of pain management, you will probably be diagnosed with coccydynia and referred to a specialist for further diagnosis.
Should I have a coccygectomy?
The first question one must ask themselves before they move ahead with a coccygectomy is "should I have my coccyx removed"? This, of course, is not an easy question to answer and should not be entered into lightly.
Once you decide that a coccygectomy is your last option, you must ensure that your doctor or specialist has a lot of experience with the coccyx and/or coccygectomies. This surgery is in a very sensitive area with the potential of serious complications, so not just any surgeon is able to perform the surgery
A surgeon will consider you a good candidate for surgery if:
- the pain you're experiencing is in the area of the coccyx and tail bon and is caused or aggravated by sitting. The doctor may test the area by injecting a local anesthetic to ensure that the coccyx is the source of your pain.
- any other treatable diseases/conditions that could potentially cause the pain have been ruled out.
- other treatments, such as corticosteroid injections or prolotherapy, have not provided sustained relief.
- different surgeons have different methods of deciding if you are a good candidate for coccyx surgery or not. Some surgeons feel that anyone who has coccyx pain because of a direct injury to be a good candidate for a coccygectomy. Others will conclude that getting temporary relief from the pain with a corticosteriod injection shows you are a good candidate. The best indication of a good candidate for a coccygectomy is a coccyx which has been shown to be unstable on the basis of a dynamic sit/stand x-ray.
Once it has been determined by a surgeon that you'll be a good candidate for the surgery, you will then need to make the decision to go through with it. Although it is a scary proposition with the potential of no relief from your pain, the thought of living a pain free life may be just enough of a push to help you make the decision.
Here are a few pro's and con's for having the surgery:
- If you meet the criteria above and your surgeon feel you to be a good candidate and your surgeon has plenty of experience and success with this operation, surgery is likely to substantially reduce or eliminate your pain.
- Most people who have had their coccyx removed are happy they did so and regain their previous quality of life.
- In the short term during recovery, the surgery will probably increase your pain and you will be out of action for weeks and potentially months. Full recovery could take up to a year.
- You may potentially be one of the minority of people who receive little or no benefit from the operation at all. Although this is a slim chance, the possibility of an unsuccessful surgery is always there.
- Analysis of published research suggests that 1-2% of patients that have had a coccygectomy may actually have increased pain after surgery.
So, have we answered your question 'what is a coccygectomy'? Do you feel you now have enough information to move forward with a decision that could potentially help improve your quality of life?