Nurse who suffers chronic tailbone pain

My photo
I am a Registered Nurse who has suffered with tailbone pain for over 8 years. Like all chronic pain, it is essential that sufferers get the correct support, diagnosis and treatment appropriate for them as an individual. This blog follows my journey with chronic pain, it expresses my personal opinions and thoughts. It is not intended as a replacement for advice or treatment from your normal Healthcare Provider.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Finally time to blog again!

Well, my coursework for my Level 3 Personal training Diploma is now all in. The practical stuff is all passed. So, I am now a Registered Gym Instructor (Level 2), but waiting to get my results for the Level 3 coursework. I am a Registered Exercise Professional and very excited!

In addition to this I undertook a mandatory Update Day for Nurses, so I can keep this Registration going as well. As long as I can prove I do a certain amount of Nurse related procedures and assessments I can stay registered. The NMC have confirmed this for me.

 My aim is to empower people to lead fuller lives through personalised programmes that restore function & vitality. I want to improve individual overall fitness, wellness & health in a responsible safe & professional manner. Motivation is key. Particular interests for me will be fallers, the elderly, those with long-term health conditions, in fact- anyone just daunted by the whole ‘gym thing’! I would like to go on and do The Exercise Referral Course, and also specialise in backs later on.

Exercise has helped dramatically with my lower back and coccyx pain. My mandatory update day was a full 9-5 not including travel time. Every aspect was sitting, apart from Basic life Support. I simply could not sit all day. I had genuinely forgotten what coccyx pain was like. Imagine that! I HAD FORGOTTEN WHAT COCCYX PAIN WAS LIKE.....until that day. 

I am over being embarrassed about it now, I had to stand for most of it, and I explained why I was having to stand. I am still baffled that you get weird looks when you try and explain about coccyx pain, and how awful it is; even other healthcare professionals looked at me like I was talking in some foreign language about something they had never heard about....or shock, horror I was openly discussing my backside.

I simply don't get it.

Anyway, it was a long and painful day, improved by standing. The next day- straight to the gym. What a relief. I am so fortunate the pain did not linger. For me staying active is so important. It is not just because it helps with my pain, it keeps me cheerful, it gets me out the house (now that I have lost my job), it's helping me loose weight, it's introducing me to new people, it's keeping my joints supple, my body strong and flexible and my heart and lungs healthy- you get the picture!

I feel for those who are unable to exercise for whatever reason. I have had those times, but always been fortunate to be able to get back to it at some point.

Providing that I'm careful I can even sit on my bum, but NEVER directly on my coccyx, I don't think I'll ever to be able to do this. So sitting and getting on and off equipment is done in my own individual and unique way, a kind of weird, subtle little roll onto a buttock!

Friday, 5 January 2018

Bloggers Recognition Award

I have received my first Bloggers Recognition Award nomination from notebooksandglasses so a massive thankyou for this. After blogging for so long, about such a random topic it is good to have recognition from a fellow blogger. It is an award designed by bloggers to recognise others in the blogging community.

The award simply requests that you blog about your award, and a little bit about how and why you started your blog and a few tips for other bloggers, or aspiring bloggers.

How my blog started

I was inspired to start blogging by the boxer Audley Harrison. I had been suffering with coccydynia for many years and undergone several types of treatment. No-one understood how awful this condition was, and how completely and utterly it impacted on my life. Dr's seemed to have little sympathy, co-workers and friends tried to understand, but just didn't 'get it'. It was an 'invisible illness'. I felt so totally and utterly alone and isolated in my pain and misery.

Then, one night, I took to Twitter and saw that Audley had coincidentally tweeted about tailbone pain. Sadly he got the predictable idiot trolls responding, but he also got genuine heartfelt sympathy from many.

I replied to him, telling him about my story, and amazingly he replied.

He inspired me to start telling my story, and perhaps, hopefully to help others in the same situation.

I have been totally amazed at how many people suffer with this condition, and how it seems to be so poorly understood and treated. I have had so many people approach me regarding this that I have been utterly dumbfounded much of the time. All have similar stories of lack of understanding and sympathy from Health Care Professionals. Assessment, treatment, follow up's.....knowledge in general seems very lacking for such a common and debilitating condition. I can only think this is partly due to the stigma attached to the area involved. People just don't want to talk about their bums at the end of the day!

So I started this blog to reach out to other sufferers, to encourage them to get help and support and to realise they are far from alone.

It has also helped me. Documenting my progress, and how I have dealt with coccydynia over the years has been very therapeutic. If I have a helped just a handful of people it has been worth it.

I have always tried to be in charge of my pain, and not let my pain be in charge of me. This has been hard at times when every area of my life is affected- sitting for any length of time, for example at the cinema, hairdressers, travel, a meal, even just trying to 'chill' at home, all have been a challenge and reduced me to a heap of tears, many, many times. But, I am winning, I am conquering this.

Tips to new bloggers

I would say, just believe in yourself and what you want to blog about. If it interests you, it will interest other people, however random and obscure it seems. Just have fun with it, and learn as you go. This blog is very basic now compared to many, and sadly I can't update it to a newer version as my phone won't support it. So, don't worry- however simple you want your blog to be, make it so. It is your blog, your journey. Enjoy it.

My Nominations

Assuming this old blog will allow the links!

A Strange old Tail

Monday, 18 December 2017

The sacrotuberous ligament....innocent until proven guilty!

Golly, the anatomy and physiology (a&p) part of my level 3 Personal training was incredibly difficult. I like to think that I have a reasonable amount of knowledge about a&p, what with my Nursing and MSc, but this has been a challenge let me tell you!

I am glad to say that I have (provisionally) passed this now, along with my Practical Assessment. I still have two case studies to complete as well as the nutritional element, so the qualification is still a way off.

I thought I would share with you, a new thing I have learnt doing my a&p coursework, and that is the relevance of the sacrotuberous ligament to us coccydynia sufferers.

These ligaments play a vital role with our stability, and are involved in standing, walking and running. When we transfer our weight from one foot to the other this ligament is involved. What is more, these strong, broad ligaments are strong enough to support the sacrum, and bear weight when we stand upright. It is a ligament of the sacro iliac joint which is connected to the sacrum, and connects the spine to the pelvis, and the bottom of this ligament connects to the leg muscles. Apparently those with hypermobility often get laxity of this ligament.

It is claimed to often be involved in coccyx pain, as it attaches to, and stabilises our little friend!   In fact the Sacrotuberous can cause a whole host of lower back problems,  including sciatica and piriformis syndrome.

Some cited causes of dysfunction with this ligament are that one ligament may be shorter than the other, or one leg shorter. Alternatively the ligament may have been damaged or injured such as by a fall onto the buttocks. This ligament can also get stressed by excessive or vigorous activity, and may consequently become ossified (bony), and potentially compress nerves and blood vessels. There are other causes of dysfunction- take a look at the link above.

If you suspect this may be the guilty suspect for your coccydynia, get some proper medical advice and an assessment, treatments such as massage may be enough to help you.

So, anyway, just thought I would share that with you. It was a new one for me, and I thought I had exhausted the causes of coccydynia! It kind of ties in with me being told that I had potentially damaged my coccyx through excessive spin cycling. This was placing strain on all the ligaments of my lower back, as the required cycling positions put them at a very unusual angle, for an hour, at least three times a week (a repetitive strain injury). On top of this I have hypermobility syndrome, so the time in the saddle also did not help my mobile coccyx.

This may be my last blog before Christmas, so I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New year. I hope it is as pain free as is possible. Remember don't suffer in silence, talk to someone, get some well deserved sympathy, and if you haven't done so already please seek professional medical help....there may be something that can ease your pain.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Still training hard

The practical classroom work is out of the way now for my level 3 Diploma in Personal training. I have my practical assessment next week.....just a little bit terrified! Apparently I am (unofficially) now a Gym Instructor, so my level 2 has been achieved, YAY! That being said, there is a mound of coursework and workbooks still to be completed before my Diploma/Level 3 in Personal Training.

Today I have been down to the gym practicing for my Level 3. My husband is kindly being my guinea pig. I have been working him very hard, poor thing. I have successfully tired him out and made him ache, which is no mean feat, as he was a successful amateur boxer and still trains. Although today he couldn't come due to work commitments.

Todays session was a 5 minute warm up on the rowing machine, followed by plenty of dynamic stretching. I then did an intense cardiovascular session on the cross trainer, but just for 12 minutes as my achilles are still both a bit sore. I then did about 40 minutes of weights, followed by some core stability work, a cool down and finishing off with some careful static stretching. I say careful because due to my hypermobility I have to be careful not to over stretch my joints.

If this was a fitness programme for myself, I would be concentrating much more on stability and weights. Due to my hypermobility I need to strengthen and stabilise my core and joints. The work I did today on the Swiss ball (gym ball), and TRX straps was really hard- enjoyable, but hard! This hypermobility has given me lots of injuries over the years- achilles tendonopathy, knee pain and of course my coccydynia to name a few. It just means that although I am by no means double jointed, I am more flexible than others my age, and my joints tend to be unstable. Loose muscles and ligaments mean that there is more wear and tear on my joints. I am therefore working on strengthening muscles so that they will help protect my weak joints. I truly believe age is no limit to trying to improve your health and wellbeing.

I feel so much better and stronger physically and psychologically since I have upped my exercise and gym attendance, more so than in my 20's, 30's and 40's amazingly. I have attended a gym or leisure centre for over 30 years now, and always had an active job, so fortunately I have a good base to work from. Anyone can get fitter and stronger, but some people just have to start at a different level- even if that means starting sat in your chair at home. Obviously injuries and ill health do get in the way, and if you have any health concerns you should always consult a healthcare professional before embarking on any kind of fitness programme.

My coccydynia has also improved since upping my fitness. This could be due to a bit of weight loss, or stronger muscles and core, or simply the endorphins circulating round my body acting as a natural pain killer and mood enhancer. I am also off my coccyx a lot more which also helps.

If you are not already physically active, I would wholeheartedly recommend it. The numerous health benefits are truly amazing.

Image result for perseverance is key quote exercise arnie pinterest

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Painfree days...

I have been pain-free coccydynia wise for a few weeks now. This is dependent on what I'm doing though. Day to day, out and about, or at home things seem good. If, as mentioned before I aggravate it, things are different. I feel a bit more in control, because I have learnt to adjust my lifestyle accordingly. However this is not always possible.

I do not sit on a bike saddle, not any type of a one! Ouch.

Image result for bike saddles pinterest

These saddles sadly are my nemesis.

I do not sit at that angle that sets off my tailbone pain. I cannot lean back as that really hurts, I cannot sit bolt upright...although sometimes this is ok. I sit leaning slightly forward, which apparently is not correct, but hey, if this is what it means to be pain free, that's how I'll sit!

Image result for angles sitting down
This is why I hate travelling.....well I love getting to the destination, but the sitting is always a challenge because I loathe the 'airline style' seats, that force me into that ridiculous position.
Seriously- do any fellow coccydynia sufferers like this style of seat? I do not believe we were designed to sit like this, so why are seats?

Image result for airline seats pinterest

I simply cannot do some yoga, Pilates or gym positions. As long as I tell the instructor beforehand they can generally give me alternatives to try.

Image result for angles sitting pinterest

Resistance machines, gym benches and some other equipment I know to avoid too.
Image result for resistance machines, sitting down pinterest
To be fair, this looks more like something you would see in a gynaecologists room!

At home I sit on my side, or lie down. I always go to sleep on my heat pad, this really helps. I spend as much time as I can off my posterior! I try and walk everywhere, or stand when I can. I am gyming 3-4 times a week.

I think the combination of these things, being more active, and having a positive attitude towards my pain helps me accept the situation. I can only pray that my coccydynia never returns to how it was. The pain I went through and lived with for so many years is something I'll never forget. So, if this means I sit badly, or avoid certain exercises, so be it. These are things that help me cope.

By nature we are hunter gatherers, we are not meant to sit on our tailbones all day, or even for hours on end. We were designed to seek food, water, shelter. Modern day living, amazing as it is, has a lot to answer for.

I sincerely hope that all people that are suffering with tailbone pain, find ways to help them manage to live with it, ways that help them live a full and enjoyable life. No one should judge anyone for the choices they make before they have walked in their shoes.

Image result for walk in my shoes pinterest

How do other people manage? If you get time, please do let me know your coping strategies?

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Yoga today

I did yoga today, first time in over ten years. I had been reading a lot about how many of the exercises are good for coccyx pain, so thought I'd give it a go to reinforce all my recent gym activity. For example the 'cat-cow' pose where you are on all fours and curve your spine upwards will in time strengthen your abdomen and thereby support your spine.

This link demonstrates the yoga poses that are alleged to help coccydynia. Yoga for coccydynia

As I consider myself a beginner it will undoubtedly be a while before I see any results. I was thrown in at the deep end really, as the teacher just shouted out positions to get into, and as I couldn't see her I had to follow what the others were doing (correctly or incorrectly). She did, however, eventually realise that I was struggling I think, and came over to assist! Some of the positions we got into were nuts, and to be honest I couldn't do them all. I am aching already which I see as a good thing.

I will keep going. I do still suffer with my tailbone pain. It is there to stay. I have learnt to live with it and adapt myself to it. I control my pain rather than it controlling me. Getting stronger and more active has definitely helped- both physically and psychologically. I also think losing weight will help as it will take more pressure away from that area.

My additional blog is also going well. It is going to run companionably alongside my coccyx/chronic pain blog. That's the plan anyway.

I intend showing that us coccydynia sufferers can still get strong, fit and active, and that coccydynia does not define who we are. It makes us stronger people, and I feel more empathetic and sympathetic to others...but that's just my opinion!

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Additional Blog

I am doing an additional blog (time allowing) on my journey to become a Professional Gym and Fitness Instructor.

Again, the lovely Boxer Audley Harrison (MBE) has given me support and confidence in doing this. I have realised that with my background in Nursing, my MSc in Nutrition, Physical Activity and Public Health, my Counselling Qualifications, studying for my Diploma in Personal Training (and Nutritional Advice) along with my professional and personal experiences I should be more than equipped to hopefully help others reach any personal fitness and wellness goals.

Ultimately I want to help others get their bodies back into alignment, through functional movement, and dynamic fitness to improve overall health and vitality. I am hoping to be able to specialise in those with long-term and short-term health conditions and back pain, or those who just find the whole exercise 'thing' a bit daunting. If I get anyone with tailbone injuries, I can't promise to cure this as unfortunately this will depend a lot on how chronic the problem is and what caused it; but if I can help improve someone's quality of life  it will be worth it.

Obviously it's early days yet and I need to get fully qualified first, but I'm on my way.

It is a challenge as I am sporting my own injuries. However I think this gives me a better understanding of the limitations of others. I can truly empathise with those who have injuries or illnesses that may be holding them back.

For myself, I have absolutely no doubt at all that being active has improved my mood, and helped my tailbone pain. This could well be a chicken and egg scenario as which causes which I wouldn't know. Exercise has been demonstrated to improve our mood, and help with pain. Endorphins are our body's naturally released painkillers and exercise releases them. They produce feelings of happiness and contentment. Any activity that lasts from 20-60 minutes ideally, increases your blood flow and  will help stimulate the release of endorphins. Much research is contradictory, and exactly how much and what type is best seems to still be under debate. What everyone does seem to agree on though, is that (unsurprisingly) exercise is good for you and does help with mood and pain relief.

Why your body releases endorphins during exercise

As long as I choose my activity sensibly I can limit any pain. This applies to my tailbone and/or my achilles.

I firmly believe no-one should be limited in what they do because of pain or illness. I do accept however that there are obstacles many simply cannot overcome and to them my heart goes out.