Sitting comfortably


I am a 28 years old female person living in France, and I have had coccygodynia since September 1995. I have had this severe lower back pain uninterrupted for seven years now. I have seen more than 50 doctors in France, the US and Germany, and I have undertaken many forms of treatment including :

Basically the pain did not recede (except for the injections for a short - but blessed - period of time, and for morphine which was fantastic but I could not stay on it). I have had very strong phases of inflammation, at some point in 1997 I had to stay constantly in bed for about six months as I could not move - not even walk - the inflammation was too bad. Other health issues have started to emerge du to this problem (heart rhythm disorder, global back pain due to muscular tension, severe depression), which was not helping - but you know all this. Reading back what I just wrote, I realize this is a whole lot of pain : I have never written this before, and I still have a very hard time talking about it. For some reason I guess I feel ashamed (for not being "normal" I guess, for making what appears to be a "fuss", for not being able to have a normal life as a whole, not to mention the specific professional and social aspects that you know so well).

The reason why I am writing to you today is first, to share it with you (can't believe I am doing it though ! what a bold move !) ; and second to tell you about two remedies that have made a serious difference in my life. Not that I have a miraculous solution : unfortunately I don't. But all these years trying to cope with this poisonous problem have made me improve my sitting-challenged survival skills ! I have tried all the solutions that you mention : cushions, barstools, donut, kneeling chairs, etc. But either they would not be "sustainable" (I could not stay on them for a long period of time, for example on barstools or kneeling) or they would pressure my butt-muscles (that's typical of the donut I found) so that they would not really work for me on a long run. Since I have just finished my PhD and do research currently, I am most often in a sitting position, so I had to find something that worked better for me. And I did : that's the good news for people looking for alternative ways.

Here's two great ways to sit (I am sitting right now writing this to you, which would be impossible for me without these solutions ) :

1. For sitting in public areas (work, social events,...) and as well as for transportation in cars, planes, trains I got one of those U-shaped neck cushions designed for airplane-travellers. They are much better than donuts as they are open in the back so they don't press on you muscles, and you can bend them and position them as you like. I have tried four types of U-shaped cushions :

Actually when I have to travel on very soft chairs (planes, trains,..) that have an uncomfortable inclination, or to sit on some of those awfully soft restaurant chairs, I use two of these buckwheat cushions : piled up, they are high enough for my bone not to touch the cushion. That really helps a lot. When travelling in planes, since I can't afford first class tickets, I also put a normal, square or rectangular cushion in my back behind my waist so that my position is both comfortable and healthy (the combination prevents from crouching).

2. For my home and office, I use another life-saving device : a tripod-stool designed for artists. I use a portable one made in leather designed for outdoor-drawing or painting. It allows my coccyx to not touch anything while sitting. It is of great help. Although I have to stand up and walk every half or one hour, I can work for quite a long time on it. And this is really much better than kneeling or lying down or standing : I have done all of this for five years, it was not nearly as comfortable as those solutions.

Updated 2002-04-07

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