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PLIF-sore tailbone 7 weeks post op (Why?)

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am now 7.5 weeks post op from an L5-S1 PLIF. At 5 weeks I was feeling pretty good, so I returned to work. I have a desk job, but I'm really not sitting anymore than I was at home. Sleeping has never been comfortable (before or after surgery), but these past few nights have been terrible. The tailbone is extremely sore, but not really when sitting, but rather when lying down or walking. Rolling over is very difficult still and coughing or sneezing is just plain painfull.

I called the doctor's office the other day and the nurse said that he would refill my Hydroco(?) one more time. I mean geez, I had the Percocet when I came home, got off that early and was put on the Hydroco. I just wanted my first refill. The nurse made it seem like I was a druggie. Anyway, I only take one at a time at bedtime and it does seem to help, but not all night.

Any advice or suggestions? I want to get feeling better, but I've been a little discouraged these past couple of weeks.



  • When do you see your surgeon again? Have you talked to your surgeon about your tailbone and ways to help with your pain? I would talk to the doctor about the way the nurse spoke to you about pain meds, it seems so soon to take away your pain meds. I hope you get some information so you can get the relief you need.
    Let us know how you are feeling. Take care.
  • I had a 2 level PLIF and disectomy on 12-11-08. I just experienced the same thing as you. I am trying to figure out what I did to cause it. I had 3 discs with tears for 2 years before they figured out what was wrong so I have been on oxycodone for the last year and half along with qxycotin and fentyl patches most recently. So my suggestion is to call the office and tell them that your pain is not being controled. After what you have been through, you deserve not to suffer any more than necessary. You defintely should ot feel bad. You have done wonderful on your limited pain med use. I envy you, I have alot ahead of me for going off narcotics. But I am still needing them, I think the tears must have really damaged the nerves casue I still have alot of pain, although it is managed. Good Luck and again, dont feel bad. You need to keep your positive attitude and not get discouraged, I think you are doing great the way it sounds. =D>
  • Have you tried icing the tail bone area? Perhaps there is some residual swelling that will respond to icing.

    What I discovered from my fusion (PLIF at L4-5) was that the recovery was a bit of a roller coaster. I felt pretty great at 6 weeks but then took several steps back at about 8 weeks. I could not have returned to week at 8 weeks.

    Bear in mind that fusion is a big carpentry job. The body is laying on the stomach, in very awkward positions, for a number of hours. It endures a great deal of abuse during the surgery. There is sawing, drilling, etc. It's no wonder we are sore in recovery.

    I imagine your tail bone is just responding to the abuses of surgery and will recover in time. When the swelling is gone and your soft tissue adjusts to the effects of the fusion, you should start feeling better.

    In the meantime, try to break up the time spent sitting as much as you can.

    And, I agree with others comments about the meds. I was on hydroco, to some extent, for about 6 months. At 8 weeks I was still on the more hard-core stuff!!

  • Gwennie makes some very good comments. You just had major surgery. I think that even if you think you are not sitting really anymore at work than you do at home, you might possibly be sitting more and using a different posture when sitting.

    The ice idea is a great one. I think ice is just about a wonder thing.

    I don't give a rat's *** what your nurse thinks of your pain med use, until she has the same surgery as you AND does something wild and crazy like returning to work at 5 weeks, she can just keep her mouth shut and give you whatever drugs you want.

    This definitely warrants being mentioned to the surgeon, don't trust the nurse to pass it on. I wondered if you are doing any PT, especially something like water PT(which I think is up there with ice as a wonderr invention.) If you get a good PT, they can give you good, practical suggestions such as pillows that have a hole in the middle for your tailbone area to "hang loose." Another one-shorten your strides when walking. If you walk your normal stride, you tilt your pelvis forward and that can cause more pain in the low back and tailbone area(think like walking like a geisha girl-take short strides.)

    You are so early in the process, it is hard to think about anything but overdoing it. Even though NSAIDS and steroids are usually considered bad for fusions in the first 3-6 months, your surgeon may decide to let you take a short course just to calm things down. Remember, you are very early in this process and you have returned to work very early. I really recommend a good PT program, especially water PT. Water PT does not hurt like regular PT can sometimes, it feels good to do those exericises in that weightless environment.

    A TENS unit might give you some temporary relief or even some Biofreeze(bengay type of stuff that PT's use.) I don't think that Biofreeze really is a wonder thing, but for me, it is a different sensation to focus on rather than the pain. It is also less stinky than icy hot or other athletic products and is over the counter(they even make it in roll-on form.)

    Sometimes tailbone pain can be caused by the stress of the fusion. You've now permanently aligned your spine in a different way than what you were used to. There's going to be stress on other areas. Sometimes if the S1 screw is a bit too large it can cause tailbone pain. But you are so early in the recovery process, it's too early to really even think about that.

    I applaud you for trying to go back to work so early. Sometimes we have to for financial reasons or motivation reasons, but whatever, I applaud you for doing it. It is an example of how motivated you are to get better. Just please remember, your back has been changed and it will take you and your body lots of time to get used to it.

    Good luck to you, and as always, post updates so we know how you are doing!
  • I have experienced this also. I had 2 level PLIF (micro) Sept 29, 2008. Major infection which put me about 6 weeks behind in recovery. In Dec. pain in tail bone area started. excruciating! Spoke to pain specialist who suggested icing, stretching and if these things didn't work they could do an injection into the sacral joint.

    I have found that icing has helped as has gentle walking. It went away for about 3 weeks and is back again. Will have to start icing again.

    I have also experienced bouts of trochanter bursitis (pain outside hip area) in both hips. Pre-surgery I had it on opposite side. Now on both sides. I am still taking Celebrex 200 mg a day. Have tried to stop and pain becomes worse.

    Is there pain as the bones start to grow together?

    Status: post op PLIF 9-29-2008 2 levels L4 -S1. Previously had microdiscectomy which helped very minimally. I have been on major medications for a couple of years for pain. Current medications: Kadian 200 mg q d (decreased by 20 mg qd for 3 weeks), MSIR 15 prn for break thru pain, celebrex 200 mg, lunesta 3 mg, wellbutrin XL 300 mg, Wellbutrin 75mg, Lexapro 20 mg, Zanaflex 4 mg prn.
  • I have had occasional tailbone pain after sitting too long. But a friend had quite a problem with it until she found a PT who gave her some good stretches just for that pain. You might explore that route. She also said that ice helped a great deal with that pain. I have used ice almost exclusively as my pain reliever since about 3 weeks post-surgery (the pain meds made me so sick that I decided I would do almost anything other than take them) and it is amazing how well it works.

  • Thanks for your feedback. The tailbone pain was better yesterday, but in exchange, I had severe pain in the left hip (which was opposite the pain I had in the right prior to my surgery). I'm going to take the advice I've received thus far and do some icing. I've not been cleared for any PT or stretching, so until then I will refrain from that option.

    Thanks again. I hope you find relief from your pain and that it goes away soon.
  • I am about two months post op for bilevel fusion of L-4/L-5 L5/S1 and I too have horrible pain in my tailbone. If that isn't hurting my hips are. My doctor too thinks I should be pain free. He told me to walk walk walk but my tailbone feels like it going to come straight out of my behind. I tried heat and that doesn't work so I think I will also try the ice. If you find any relief let me know also. I am just reduced to tears from this.
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