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First Post

johnvincentjjohnvincent Posts: 10
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Spinal Stenosis

Hi! I am 50 years old and have had spinal stenosis (L5SI) and pyriformis syndrome for over three years. My doc is a physiatrist (rehab doc) and is great. To make a looooong story short. I am not a surgery candidate nor am seeking surgery; but i suffer physically and emotionally especially when I realize new limitations like today. I have always had a severe problem sitting. I have come to know I have a most difficult time in a car. Now I have come to realize I cannot sit in a car for more than an hour. Does anyone have advice on how to sit in a car without creating a worsening of symptoms? Thanks.


  • Welcome to Spine Health. May I ask why you are not a surgical candidate?

    What I found with vehicles, is it is so important to "try them on for size" and see how well it fits. Checking for posture, visibility, whether my knees are higher than my hips, how easy or difficult it is to enter/exit and how much head room I have. My spine has forced me to sell a vehicle that I thought I'd drive into dust particles and buy something less classy, but spine functional. This last summer I purchased another vehicle and by this time had as many requirements as I could think of, identified and plugged into my search. I was quite surprised that the vehicle that "fits my spine" isn't one of the ones I had expected.

    I found that getting out of the vehicle before it gets painful and walking around a bit or stretching really helps. Also a gel ice pack does wonders for taking the ache and knocking it down. A few in the cooler and you can get a decent road trip out of them.

    Things I found that make it worse, are having my knees at any level above my hips, trying to sit up straight and not having enough leg room to stretch my legs as needed (one at a time of course).

    Hope this helps.

  • HI! I appreciate our reply. I am not a surgery candidate because I can manage the pain with meds, stretching, and exercise (swimming). I do not have deteriorating discs and my stenosis is more likely congenital. No surgery for me until pain becomes unmanageable or I suffer from incontinence. In my particular situation surgery may help but would not entirely correct the problems I have especially with sitting. Essentially, with surgery the benefits do not out weight the risks.,,,,YET!

    I do not think any vehicle would significantly help my pain when sitting in a car. My problem is similar to yours. I know what causes the pain when I sit in the car and that is "bucket seats." I briefly looked into vehicles that do not have bucket seats. Know what? All vehicles sport bucket seats even trucks. Meds provide the greatest relief to driving without so much pain. One more really big thing is that I watch how long I must drive each day. I spend as little as time as possible in the car even that may mean three to four hours a day. I pace myself.
  • I think it is great that your pain is still controllable via meds, stretching and exercise. Fantastic! I don't blame you for wanting to keep it that way for as long as you possibly can. I was just concerned that you might have some other sort of ailment that keeps you from being able to have surgery. Glad to know that if you decide you can no longer handle the pain, then you basically can pursue surgery.

    Bucket seats are the worst! I almost wrote that in my initial post, but figured I had put down enough stuff. I wound up getting a full sized pick up truck with a 60/40 split seat and it is fantastic. Basically a bench seat with the comforts of being a bit smaller and not as blah. Plus it has a seat warmer. Yay! Great for cold mornings and achy bones.

    3 or 4 hours a day is still quite a bit and may be worth the hassle of finding a different vehicle. I didn't buy a new vehicle, but set my price range and with that and my list of requirements, found a nice vehicle that allows me to travel for hours. Tilt steering also helps out.

    I hope you can find a way to ease things up for yourself.

    Best Wishes,

  • "C"

    Your words are music to my ears. Thanks!

  • I sent you a message with some ideas for another option.

  • Gwennie17,

    Ah, Yes you are right on target with my situation. My back needs to be higher than my legs. Also, when the leg goes out there is pain. I have purchased three or four types of cushion to raise me up high, but the bucket seat prevents it from staying in place. Bummer!

    I have test drove a Chevy 20`2010 with bench seats and six adjustments for the driver's seast. It is far better than what I drive now.

    I am buying the car, and I will see how much discomfort I may have if any?

    I will be in touch. Thanks you so much.

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