Lucrezia Millarini health: The Games star on her nightmare accident and damaged coccyx

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As a result of the life-changing moment, the journalist was left with a damaged coccyx, as well as having what she referred to as an “epiphany”, doubting her career and future life. Whilst recovering in hospital the star decided that it was definitely broadcast journalism that she wanted to pursue, crediting the frightening ordeal for the career that has made her the “happiest”. Recovering well following the accident, the NHS explains that individuals who damage the coccyx can suffer from possible ongoing pain known as coccydynia.

Recalling the horrific event back in 2021, Millarini said: “It was all so sudden. I remember somehow getting up and rushing off to the flat below, where another, older, British couple were staying.

“They let me in and I remember collapsing on their floor.

“I had not registered my pain or that I had blood on me. They called the ambulance. I remember paramedics telling me we were getting airlifted to mainland Greece before sedating me on the plane.

“I woke up on a trolley in a hospital corridor. My boyfriend was nowhere to be seen. I was alone, vulnerable and terrified. It was a nightmare. I must have been about 22.”

Overcoming the initial terror of the accident, and realising that she was receiving the right treatment, Millarini decided that she would return to university to study broadcast journalism, a decision that has given her the career she is known for today.

She added: “After the accident I went back to uni to do a post-grad in broadcast journalism. Sometimes life sends you messages. For me it was a sign to follow the career path that made me happiest.”

Luckily, the star, who has also appeared on Dancing On Ice managed to fully recover from the ordeal, and in 2021 said that her body was in “the best condition it’s ever been”.

But for others, direct trauma to the coccyx is the most common cause of a condition known as coccydynia, which leads to painful inflammation and discomfort around the area.

The NHS explains that the main symptom of coccyx – which is also referred to as the tailbone – pain is tenderness at the base of the spine, near the top of the bottom. Although usually a dull ache, some individuals may also experience occasional sharp pains.

This pain can be worse during the following:

  • When sitting down
  • When standing up
  • When bending forward
  • When having a poo
  • During sex
  • During a monthly period.

Individuals with coccyx pain can also be disrupted in other ways, finding that they struggle to sleep and carry out daily activities, this is mainly because the muscles which attach around the tailbone (pelvic floor) are also damaged.

Although the most common cause of coccyx pain is an injury or accident, pregnancy, repeated or prolonged strain on the area, poor posture and being over or underweight can cause damage.

Falls and damage to the coccyx can cause it to become misaligned, causing discomfort to individuals when touched or when they are sitting down. In order to cope people tend to find themselves shifting from buttock to buttock in order to search for a more comfortable position.

If an individual is experiencing ongoing pain such as this, the best course of treatment involves physiotherapy, which will allow the muscles around the coccyx to be manipulated to help ease the pain.

It is important to treat not only bone but muscles and ligaments around the area as well, as this may be contributing to the dysfunction. Without treatment, these areas might pull the coccyx back out of alignment over time.

Other possible treatment methods include corticosteroid and local anaesthetic injections. This medication is put directly into the bottom of the spine for a number of consecutive months in order to help reduce pain.

It is commonplace for individuals to describe a sensation of “lightness” and ability to stand taller after being treated for tailbone dysfunction, as if a pressure was released.

As well as medication and physiotherapy, sitting correctly may help to reverse the problem completely. Dr. Leslie Wakefield explained that poor posture happens when individuals round the lower back. When in this position, the tailbone joint and surrounding soft tissue can become irritated. This is why many people may find themselves shifting back and forth when sitting for long periods of time.

In order to remedy the issue, Dr Wakefield recommended using a “wedge-shaped cushion, with a coccyx cut out”, this enables the spine to be in its proper position, and makes it harder for individuals to slouch.

Some individuals also find that putting ice on their tailbone area helps to manage discomfort. Dr Wakefield again recommends a “snack-sized plastic bag, filled halfway with water, and frozen. Then wrap it in a moist paper towel to protect your skin. Allow it to sit on the skin over the tailbone, just inside the crevice between your buttocks”.

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