The Seat Cushion That Takes a Load Off
Last updated: April 2022
Living with rheumatoid arthritis/rheumatoid disease (RA/RD) involves an ongoing process of trial-and-error, whether trying to find an effective medication or hitting the level of physical activity that supports health without sending one into a flare.
Trial-and-error is also involved in finding helpful ergonomic tools and aids. Some products are far easier to use when designed with comfort in mind, while others are a waste of money. As it seems that any product’s price goes up as soon as the word “ergonomic” is applied to it, buying ineffective items can feel like throwing money away.
The pain of sitting all day
I am reminding myself about the trial-and-error involved in purchasing ergonomic items as I work to refrain from kicking myself for not purchasing my new seat cushion sooner. I’ve been diagnosed with RA/RD for 20 years, and during that time I have spent countless hours in front of a computer as a student, employee, volunteer, and writer.
While I’ve been grateful to have work that doesn’t involve intense physical labor that would be impossible for my body, it can be surprisingly painful to sit for hours. I feel the effects of sitting most prominently in my hips, sacroiliac joints, and lower back, and sometimes the pain extends to my knees.
Finding a new solution
Over the years, I have tried several things to make sitting less painful. I always have a decent ergonomic office chair, although I’ve never sprung for one of the really expensive ones I’ve looked at online. (Who knew you could spend a thousand bucks on an office chair?!)
For years, I used inflatable seat discs that have some wobble, preventing one from sitting absolutely still. This helped a bit, but not enough. Then I tried a ball chair, which is a giant exercise ball in a plastic frame on wheels. The idea is that it improves one’s posture and doesn’t allow you to settle into positions that are hard on your body. It did help my hips, but it actually made my back feel worse.
I find myself sitting for longer periods of time
Shortly before COVID-19 caused many people to begin working from home, I left my office job to devote all my working hours to freelance writing and editing. This has been positive for me for a number of reasons, and now that my kids have not attended school in person for half a year, it has been a lifesaver to not have to figure out childcare.
However, I found myself sitting for even longer stretches than when I worked in a job with a mix of computer work and non-computer tasks. My right hip became intensely painful, and my lower back was getting worse by the day. It was hard to think of anything but the pain, making it very difficult to create written product.
Ordering a memory foam seat cushion
In desperation, I went down an internet search rabbit hole, and I discovered a wide range of seat cushions available. The one I ordered is a memory foam orthopedic office chair seat cushion for tailbone pain (in case anyone is looking for search terms to use in their own internet search). I have been amazed at how much it has relieved my hip and back pain and improved my posture. It shifts the sitting position to raise the thighs a bit so that I don’t unconsciously hunch over and settles my weight more evenly than sitting on the office chair alone. Using it immediately decreased my pain level several notches.
Not a miracle cure, but happy for milder hip pain
As is the case with everything I try for RA/RD, this seat cushion is not a miracle cure. I continue to have hip pain and I do feel the effects of sitting at the computer for hours. However, the pain is far milder than it was before, and it does not distract me from my work the way it did a few weeks ago. For $30, this has been a very welcome decrease in pain for a small price, compared to how expensive RA/RD treatments and tools can be. Living with RA/RD is hard, and anything that makes it a bit easier is a positive development.
Have you struggled to afford your RA medications?