Nurse who suffers chronic tailbone pain

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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.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Sitting and good posture for our coccyx

This is how we should sit, this is what our bodies 'sitting bones' are for, hence the name.
principles of good posture - lumbar and sit bones
 Courtesy of Correct posture
Why are so many 'comfortable' seats not comfortable at all? So called 'airline' style seats that we find in cars, trains, buses, hairdressers, cinema, dentists....all force us to sit badly- really badly. It's no better at home- our so called comfortable chairs and sofas/setees. Soft, plush, padded cushions that let our coccyx sink down into them, and press on all the wrong bits. They force us to put all our weight through our tailbone, not these sitting bones.
Our tailbone is vestigial bone- the remnants of a 'lost' tail. This tail is clearly present for 4 weeks while we develop inside the womb, but most prominently days 31-35 days of the embryos' development. As the embryo develops, the 'tail' is absorbed by the growing body as it develops into a foetus. When we are born we still have the tail 'bone'- or coccyx however. Although, in rare cases some people are also born with a tail of some kind. This tailbone/coccyx still serves to help with balance and stability, as well as the attachment of some muscles, tendons and ligaments. It is not really meant to be sat on, although it aids in 'supporting' us whilst we sit.
Long journeys by any means of transport are a challenge to coccydynia sufferers. These 'airline' style seats are clearly not good for coccydynia sufferers. In fact I cannot understand how any one finds them comfortable. I have travelled from France Charles de Gaulle airport to Paris in tears before now on their coach in absolute agony- all because of this style of seat. These seats are everywhere, trains also are agony for me, for the same reason. I know this is just a personal thing- but who ever thought these seats a good idea!? They do not suit the human body, they do not 'fit' us.


Picture courtesy of stay tuned sports medicine Tips to avoid back and neck injury during flying
This site also gives good advice for any journey where you may be sitting for any length of time.

Courtesy of- medical  Coccyx pain and sitting

You can try and make your seat better by the use of various cushions, heat pads, supports, but at the end of the day- for a coccydynia sufferer a comfortable seat does not exist. Or at least I have not really found one that does.

At work- I alternate between my special coccyx cut out chair, and my standing desk. As a community nurse I also drive a bit- so that's another different seat, as well as different patients seats and floors that I sit on! For me, varying where I sit, and sitting as little as I can helps, but does not solve anything.

A comfortable sofa does not seem to exist- or at least I have not found one. At home, I alternate between the sofa, donut ring (sometimes), heat pad....and best of all lying in bed. Sadly I don't really find the donut ring very helpful, and I have a coccyx cut out cushion too, but this does not help at all. It seems to concentrate all my weight through the cut out and therefore indirectly my coccygeal area. Best relief to sit with is my heat pad.

Some seating dilemmas cannot be avoided if you want to lead a normal life. For example- cinema, hairdressers, or the dentists. Of course, you also cannot avoid all travel. All we can do is attempt to 'cope' with this pain that we live with. We need to find a solution to our own individual pain. Some people swear by their various cushions, others do not find soft seats too much of a problem.

Some people with coccyx pain find hard seats the problem. In fact I have known people who have coccydynia from spending too long sitting on a hard surface. I also have issues when I attend events like study days/training, because often the seats are so high (and I have short legs) that I cannot plant my feet firmly on the ground. A day like this, perched on a chair, all the weight on my coccyx is unbearable. Consequently I have spent many study days standing for long periods. Alternatively, it means leaning forward on the seat, which again causes unnatural pressure on my coccyx (see picture above). Ideally I need a firm surface to sit on, I need to be able to sit correctly on my sit bones, feet flat on the ground. Or I need a table to lean on, so I can take the weight off my coccyx. Any scenario is uncomfortable for long periods however. 

Any posture that causes unnatural strain on the muscles surrounding the coccyx, or pressure on the coccyx can injure it. As discussed in previous 'posts' and 'pages' poor posture (such as poor sitting habits or bad seating), repetitive strain injury (RSI) (such as a lot if cycling) can also cause coccydynia. 

So whether you use a cushion, or have found a physiotherapist who helps, had steroid injections, manipulations, or opted for a coccygectomy, or anything else- I hope whatever you have done or are doing helps your pain. I continue with self-help- massage, heat, and pelvic floor exercises. I am not pain free, but these things help. I think self-help also makes me feel more in control of my own pain, which in some small way also helps.

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