Car and Bed: For those with fractures and back... - Bone Health

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Car and Bed

cmoc profile image

For those with fractures and back pain can you tell me what type of bed you sleep in (for example, adjustable, or low down etc.) and what sleep position? and also what car you sit in as a passenger at the front? I am having to change the bed (too high) and the car (potholes in the UK are atrocious). The car I am looking for is one that has a soft ride over pumps and potholes (agony on my back)


16 Replies

I started off in the 1980s with a herniated disc. Now I’ve got osteoporosis, a sacral fracture and I’ve still got the herniated disc and various other nasties. So my back problems have dragged on for a very long time.

At the moment I’m using a John Lewis mattress on a metal bed frame, but I have worked my way through countless beds.

I started off on a regular bed 30+ years ago before all my back problems. Then we bought an old fashioned iron bedstead with a horsehair orthopaedic mattress. That was far too firm and made my back ache. Bought a full size topper for it then gave up and bought a regular metal framed bed with a comfortable -ish mattress.

Eventually we splashed out and bought a Tempur adjustable bed. That was ok. It wasn’t a bed I would want to ‘lie in’ on but it was comfortable enough to sleep on. It was incredibly hot though and I had Graves’ disease back in 2012 so nights were very uncomfortable.

Then the mechanism stopped working and I didn’t love it enough to pay what it was going to cost to repair it as it was getting on in age. So out it went and I brought the old bed frame back into use with one of those beds that come in a box. It was ok but it was still very hot.

Now we’re on the metal frame with a regular JL mattress and a foam overlay. It’s ok but still not brilliant.

The bed frame isn’t particularly high or low - when I sit on it my knees are at right angles to the floor and my feet tough the floor when I sit on the edge so that it’s easy to get from sitting to standing. Too low would make standing up more difficult.

My husband snores and stays up later than I want to plus I am restless and like a totally darkened room which he hates so I have the bed to myself and I sleep mostly on my right side with a pillow and at the moment a hot water bottle up against my back and a very flat down filled pillow under my head. I also use one of those block things you see on TV between my knees. I take up a lot of space. Other half comes and joins me in the morning

I’m afraid I’ve found getting the perfect bed a total nightmare. It really isn’t easy. Although saying that I have slept well in those Lenny Henry hotels where you can buy their mattresses. That could be next in my eternal quest for a comfortable bed.

The car - another nightmare. We’ve got a Citroen Picasso and I’ve got a Citroen C2 both of which have quite high seats so getting in is easy and a lot of headroom in the front. They suit us both, the seats are firm so you might find it too hard a ride, I can go long distances in it quite comfortably and for me firm is better than too soft. The worst car I was ever a passenger was a Vauxhall I hired years ago. Something about the angles of the seat was just awful - but that was years ago and I’m sure car design has changed since then.

When I first developed the sacral fracture I found it easy to get in and out of the car because of the seat height but sitting in the car was sometimes quite uncomfortable (but any car would have been uncomfortable back then) and after trying a variety of pillows and cushions I bought a thing called a Backfriend to sit on in the car - and that gives me a much better angle to sit at.

Sorry this has turned into a bit of an essay on beds but you’re obviously finding out how difficult beds and cars can be - you’ve got my full sympathy.

cmoc profile image
cmoc in reply to Fruitandnutcase

Hi, yes, I can understand the difficulties. I started with coccyx pain which was over 30 years ago, and because of vertigo (can only sleep on my back) so swapped the bed 3 x times, like you, tried the rock hard awful bed! Then swapped mattresses, and settled on a medium firm ordinary sprung as pocket sprung was more expensive but also more uncomfortable.Then tried an adjustable (which was too soft) worse thing for me is too soft, so that went.

Settled for years with medium firm mattress and an eggcrate topper (not memory foam, like you makes me too hot) and a goosedown very soft top pillow on top of 3 x ordinary ones.

But now, I am finding, with the many spinal fractures, and a problem with the sacro iliac

area (I am sure its connected to the coccyx problem!) that I prefer the recliner chair, but that

has now gone soft, and I need to get back into a bed, so am looking at adjustable again, but wonder about which mattress softness to have on it, or a chair bed.

The car is a complete nightmare, we had a Honda Civic when I got the first fracture and I had to use the walking stick to heave myself out to a standing position, we swapped it for a Mokka (high seats) which is great getting in and out but not so good over rough road and potholes, have test driven several lately and none are much good.

I will look up the Backfriend. Thanks for the information.

I love people who answer with essays, gives us much more information LOL

Fruitandnutcase profile image
Fruitandnutcase in reply to cmoc

You poor soul - I feel your pain. It was falling on my coccyx that finished me off. You wouldn’t believe it could all be such a nightmare would you?

I feel guilty knowing that our latest new mattress isn’t really all that comfortable. I’d forgotten about the egg box foam - that’s what we had on the first horsehair orthopaedic mattress. Might be worth looking to see if I can find another one.

Sometimes I wonder what the really expensive beds I’ve seen in JL would be like. No matter how long you lie in a mattress you just never really know until you get it home and sleep on it. I know those mattresses in the box offer a trial but I’m not sure it would be as easy as they say to get rid of it again.

What about sitting on a nice soft down pillow? That’s what I found most comfortable before I got the Backfriend. That’s quite firm but it’s good in that it gets me sitting at a good angle for my spine.

I’m off now to look up your egg crate toppers, I’d just love a nice soft bed that I could sink into, I’d just love to be able to get really comfortable 😉

Good luck in you ur quest x

I have not got back pain like you but I am very fussy about getting my bed just right and have been on a quest for my perfect bed for a long time. A few years ago I discovered Latex Sense mattress toppers and this has ticked most of my boxes. I got the Talalay latex which has enough give but is also supportive. It does not get hot like foam. The cover is quite cool in fact. Make sure that the mattress underneath does not have a dip in the middle and is about medium support. I will be staying with this combo now, this is the perfect bed for me.

Sorry you're in so much pain and struggling to be comfortable. I don't know who designs car seats, but a lot of them have a concave shape. If yours does you could try a wedge-shaped cushion that helps keep your spine in alignment. This is one example. It's for cars, but they also have a thicker one, just scroll down.

Hi,I have multiple vertebral fractures,lumbar & thoracic & bad kyphosis.I cannot lie down so sleep sort of half propped up,like a banana😁 Had to give up the bed & now live on recliner sofa,push a button & it sits me up so I can stand up.Getting out of bed,no matter how I did it created too much agony.I spent months trying to lie on bed for even 1/2 hour but made pain much worse even though propped up with wedge,pillows,cushions,lying on thick duvets etc.Nothing helped so I live here now.Was offered hospital bed but too short & getting out of it problem remained.Looked at £7 k bed that swivels you round but looked like a torture contraption.I may try bed again one day but this works for me so no rush.I can’t even lie on my side so have to sleep in same position always.

Hope you can find some comfortable solution.x

The best mattress I ever had was a cheap memory foam one. After years of lying on that, my "bad back" disappeared. I am now sleeping on a hybrid which has coincided with four compression fractures. It was much too firm so I bought a topper, which helps but I know I'll never be completely comfortable on anything that's got springs of any sort in it. I can never understand why Tempur is so expensive.

I can only sleep on my left side due to fractures, and the bed is a high victorian iron and brass bed with a deep, medium firm mattress which has a cloud topper on top. The bed is actually better for me than anything very low as I can do the 'pendulum' swing out of bed. We had a Citroen Picasso before I had my fractures and I can only sit in the back, but again, fortunately it is a good height (they are not low slung cars) so I am not crunched up or having to 'fold up' when I get in and out. I wouldn't be able to drive as the driver's seats would be too low and I can't hold my arms out for long due to onging pain from spinal fractures in the 'bra strap' region.

Hello cmoc

I haven't solved the car sit issue yet, but the only way I manage is to sit on a shock absorbing (wheelchair) cushion, OT suggested this, with a second shock absorbing cushion behind plus a roll cushion to pad out the curve of the car seat, I then have the safety belt as tight as possible. I also hold one of my crutches , this I push it against the floor it acts as a brace to hold me upright, sitting in the front I can also see what's coming so alter the amount of pressure on the crutch. (Sounds a bit funny the way I have written it, but being able to push against the 'stick' gives me the stability over bumps!).

Re: Beds I was supprize how many other people also have old iron and brass beds, with the height being knees at 45 dregees when feet are on the floor. I too use a topper and light weight top covers. I can only sleep lying on my back, semi up right. I had a break though a few months ago when I tried some new pillows (company's advert' is often in ROS mag.... which I took no notice of for years!) But with one back sitting up Gx pillow and a medium soft sleeping pillow I find I only wake 3-4 times a night as a verse to the 6-8 times with neck, shoulder and back pains. (

Hope you are able to find something more suitable.

Posy White

I'm in the middle of healing from my worst fracture yet, T-10, which I was told to not twist at all. That makes getting out of any bed next to impossible. I've been sleeping on a couch with reclining chairs at each end. I have a memory foam pillow starting at my coccyx, going halfway up my back and a somewhat square flat pillow above that, for neck support. I went looking to purchase a reclining lift chair, and found one I thought would work nicely, but decided to stay with the couch. (I'm at my sister's house in another state, United States, and the idea of having to ship the chair when I leave isn't ideal.)

As far as cars go, I have found the higher seat is easiest to get in and out, with accompanying pillows for comfort. We are in our coldest weather now, and my coat is slippery against the seat, making it easy to steer around to the forward position. Not sure what I'll do for that ease of movement once I'm not wearing a coat because I think the ease of movement would benefit guarding against future fractures.

Praying you are able to find what works best for you to have optimal comfort so your sleep is restful.

Hi. Sitting is painful for me plus I have back, foot and shoulder pain. Had my furniture and bed raised. Changed car to an automatic with higher seats. Best help for me was a thick memory foam mattress a huge 12 foot U shape body support pillow with extra filling. It takes up a lot of room in the bed but worth every inch. I did not know they existed....apparently pregnant ladies sometimes use them although a different shape. These support pillows are so can easily move them to where it gives the most comfort. Xx

I bought a new relyon bed and it’s very similar in comfort as the one I had in sugical ward in hospital when I was in when my T12 went and I couldn’t bear any weight at all. . I’ve got a Peurgeot 107 car which is plenty big enough for me. I find I’m comfortable in my recliner in my bed and in my car.

My fractures are so bad I was given an adjustable electric hospital bed with blue mattress. It has side rails only at the top so I don't feel trapped and they help me to get out of bed. Adjusting the height from the floor is invaluable so have no trouble putting my feet flat on the floor at right angles to my knees.

I sleep about 45 degrees on my back with pillows either side going down to keep me in place. The under knee raiser is about 15 degrees, just enough to stop me sliding down to the bottom of the bed. I cannot sleep on my side at all.

The mattress is getting a bit thin and I can feel the metal bars etc underneath so I have a memory foam topper on it.

I am hoping they don't ask for it back as although it is an ugly beast in my bedroom, I can't imagine anything else which would match up to it. The wooden slatted ones have to have special mattresses as they can crease in the middle and bunch up at the end of the bed.

We had to change our Honda Accord as I just cannot bend enough to slid in and the footwell is very deep and the car is low so had no chance of getting out of it. So we have bitten the bullet and gone for a Renault Trafic van.

We did not have to pay the VAT as it is for disabled use. It was already lined and insulated and has a lift to higher the wheelchair in and fix the wheels to the floor. It was an ex hire van so the fittings were already there. Once in the van I have the choice to walk from the wheelchair to the front seat which is a correct height for me. Then do it in reverse to get out. It sounds like a faff but works for us. There are vans which are fitted with ramps but poor hubby is getting older and I am no lightweight so the lift seemed the better option for us.

In the eventual hope that my back does not deteriorate more then we will part convert it to a day van. We already have the back windows tinted for privacy and have a porta potti which hubby has raised up for my use. It fits nicely in a wooden storage box and no-one knows it is there. We have already been on quite a few days out and the loo has been invaluable. We have a little mobile gas cooker ring to boil up the kettle for hot drinks, so nearly there. The lift is easily removed so we will be able to adapt the back end as we want in the future.

One big advantage is you are seated high and can look over the walls and hedgerows and really enjoy the scenery! We have the Blue Badge too so most places we can park for free.

It was not originally my first choice but once I accepted I could not use a car, the van has been invaluable.

I have fractures at T11 and 12 and L1,2 and 3. I have a cheapish ikea bed with their own memory foam mattress and a Panda mattress topper. It’s comfortable enough but I do have to wedge some wheat bags into the small of my back for support - I’m a side sleeper. And the warmth is good too.

We got a VW Tiguan to replace our Touran which was a great car but too van like to be comfortable! I use a lumbar support cushion and the best thing about it is the heated seats - bliss on a sore back. I can’t sit in the back for long as the seats are too slanted back even with the cushion but the front seats adjust enough that it’s ok for longish journeys as a passenger and shortish ones driving.

Hope you find something that gives you some comfort.

Isn’t it awful how much we suffer!Also admirable that left to our own devices we find things that work for us & make life bearable.Well done all! 👏Just had reminder for breast screening but can’t manage it.We have a Kia Sportage,nice & high to get in & out but frankly it’s not worth the pain & fear of further fractures & I could never get up those stairs now.Wonder if I’ll ever get in a car again….🤔

Thank you so very much for your post! I'm now researching beds, as I've been one who needs comfort to be able to fall asleep. My overnight guests will benefit, because I do have a decent comfortable bed.

My biggest difficulty has been finding the "ultimately" comfortable pillow. I've been through many pillows, some ridiculously priced. I will pay whatever it costs, just haven't found it yet. The one I have does give me "some" good nights.

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