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.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Goldilocks again!

Yesterday I had a dental appointment. It reminded me about my battle with uncomfortable chairs! These are the waiting room chairs:

This chair was too high, and as I could not put my feet flat on the floor was really uncomfortable as all my weight ended up through my tailbone.

This one was just plain weird. The angle it forced me to sit, again meant all my weight was forced into my tailbone.

This one looked hopeful; but again was uncomfortable. I think it was more of a trendy 'look at me' seat, than meant for comfort. Lets not forget this was a waiting room, in a dental surgery. I would rather have a comfortable seating option than one that looks nice!

This one was again, just plain weird. It angled forward; again putting me at a really uncomfortable angle. Seriously, is it so hard to just make a normal comfortable seat, or just too hard to put one in a waiting room? Is it just me who has this dilemma when trying to sit down. I have the same issue on buses and trains.....and planes, with the ridiculous angle of 'airline seats'.

Our bodies simply were not made to sit at this angle. We have 'sitting bones', the clues in the name! Also we have nice cushioned buttocks (some of us more than others!) Sitting in an unnatural position is just so bad for our posture, we end up with lower back pain, coccyx pain, neck pain. If you cannot get comfortable you may also end up sitting with all your weight on one buttock cheek, irritating your sciatic nerve and causing buttock pain (piriformis pain). Irritating your sciatic nerve may lead to lower back pain along with a numb leg, which can radiate down to your foot.

Sitting leaning back puts weight onto our poor tailbones. This is not good, especially if you suffer with tailbone pain anyway. Slouching may also cause pressure on your spine as it reduces spinal disk height. Over time it can also put strain on associated ligaments, muscles and soft tissues.

Sitting leaning forward, is also not good. Although it takes weight off our tailbones (I often find myself sitting like this) doing this may overstretch our glutes, they are pulled into an unnatural position which over time may cause long-term pain. It can irritate our tailbone as it pulls on it, by stretching attached ligaments and tendons. This is one of the problems I find cycling.

It may be worth considering whether you have an issue with muscles in this area. The hamstrings, abductor and adductor muscles, and piriformis can all be potential offenders. If you have a good Health Care Professional you can see, it is well worth it. Exercises to strengthen these muscles may well help.

This picture (courtesy of Pinterest), clearly shows that sitting correctly, on an appropriate surface will help good posture and take the weight off your tailbone.

Ultimately we are hunter, gatherers and our bodies like to stand and move. Our bodies are designed to be upright; we have strong thigh bones and knees, a curved spine to absorb shock when we walk or run, we have wide hips, and long legs allowing us to walk longer and faster  than our predecessors. The skull is positioned on our spine so that it stays supported and erect. Sitting slows our metabolism, affecting our ability to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure and less able to metabolise fat. Too much sitting may also result in bone loss and muscle weakness. Exercise (and a good, healthy nutritional intake) encourages building and maintaining bone mass.

So what did I do whilst waiting at my dental surgery? A waiting room not conducive for waiting in. I did what I should do more of, what we should do....I stood, and moved.

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