Office chair

For many people with scoliosis, back pain and spinal discomfort are a constant nuisance throughout the day, even when sitting down. This can be especially problematic when you're in work - it's hard to get things done when you're struggling to find a comfortable sitting position!

 

Office chairs for people with scoliosis

Most office-based jobs require you to be sat at your desk for hours at a time, staring at a screen that's two feet in front of you and typing away at a keyboard - hardly the ideal seating scenario for someone with scoliosis.

In fact, according to workplaceinsight.net, an astounding 81% of us spend 4 to 9 hours a day sitting at our desks. To put that into context, that's about as much time as most of us spend asleep at night.

Sitting at your desk, locked in the same position hour after hour can lead to stiffness and soreness even if your spine is straight - let alone if you're already coping with scoliosis. Luckily, there are lots of ergonomic office chairs available for a range of budgets.

 

What's the best office chair for someone with scoliosis?

The iconic Aeron chair by Herman Miller is a good place to start.

Known globally as "America's best-selling office chair", this classic desk chair has become so well-established since its invention in '92 that it's now featured in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection.

Updated to meet the demands of the 21st century worker, the Aeron of today features "stronger and smarter materials, better adjustment capabilities, intuitive controls, enhanced aeration, and a health-positive, more comfortable sit".

That being said, such ample spinal support doesn't come cheap - the Aeron typically retails at around the £1,000 mark. Even if you're buying second-hand, it's not unusual for this chair to fetch around £500.

For a worthy substitute, the HÅG SoFi range is another great solution to your office woes and clocks in at around £700. With padded lumbar support, arm/foot/head rests and a variety of customisable features, it's a great alternative to the pricier Aeron.

 

Affordable scoliosis chairs for the office

For a more economical office solution that won't empty the rainy day fund, the Murray and Isaac ranges from John Lewis are also effective in terms of ergonomic support.

Retailing within the more reasonable £250 to £300 range, these seats feature form-comforting mesh, adjustable armrests and lumbar support, with the Isaac model also boasting a neck support for additional posture alignment.

However, if this still seems a little out of your price range, there are still plenty of other cost-effective solutions to be found online, while your local furniture shop may also have a variety of options in store to try out.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when searching for your perfect chair:

  • Look for high-back chairs with a posture curved seat

  • Adjustable arm rests and neck rests are also ideal features that can help increase comfort and relieve spinal stress

  • Additional lumbar support can also be provided with a supplemental aid if necessary

 

Specialist scoliosis chairs

While the ergonomic office chairs listed above may be suitable for those with mild scoliosis, specialist seating products may be the best choice for those with extreme / severe cases of spinal curvature.

From directed positioning of the pelvis to the use of neck and lateral supports, specialist seating can actively contribute to easing the pain of scoliosis.

Designed to reduce slumping, minimise neck flexion and promote a neutral midline from head to pelvis, specialist scoliosis chairs offer a variety of spine-straightening perks that are not found in standard seating products.

Some specialist chairs also feature "tilt-in-space" functionality, providing adjustable seat positioning to alleviate gravitational discomfort. Also known as "power tilt", this function allows the chair to achieve a recline of up to 60 degrees while keeping your hips and knees at 90-degree angles.

One great example of a specialist office chair for people with scoliosis is the DuoBack from Rohde & Grahl. This product is well worth exploring for any office worker who frequently feels the strain of scoliosis at work.

Here at Scoliosis SOS, we offer ergonomic assessments and postural seating advice to all patients as part of our comprehensive specialist treatment programmes. Call 0207 488 4428 or fill out our online enquiry form to discuss your condition further.

Read More: Coping with Scoliosis When You Work at a Desk

Non-Surgical Scoliosis Treatment from Scoliosis SOS >>

Image courtesy of Pexels

Newspaper articles about people working with scoliosis

We recently posted the following question on our Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages:

 

Have you ever had any problems at work because of your scoliosis?

 

Here are some of the replies we received from our followers:

 

"Yes. I work as a vet nurse, so holding / carrying large dogs and being on my feet all day are very painful. I've had to reduce to part-time hours as I cannot cope with full-time due to constant muscular pain."

- Amy, via Facebook

 

"I'm always in pain and feeling uncomfortable, and people think I'm faking it which is upsetting."

– Florentina, via Instagram

 

"It makes things very difficult, I can't sit or stand for too long."

- Em, via Facebook

 

“I can’t do long surgeries”

– Dr Eric, via Instagram

 

"Yup, had to move desks as the desk was a wave shape and my rib cage kept catching on the desk because the wave didn't fit with my curve!"

- Debbie, via Twitter

 

"My supervisors threatened to fire me because I wasn't lifting heavy bins, etc."

– Hiba, via Instagram

 

"I've been turned down for many jobs due to scoliosis."

- Tanya, via Facebook

 

As you can see, many people with scoliosis have encountered challenges in their professional lives as a result of the condition and its symptoms.

But this doesn't mean that scoliosis has to stand in the way of your career ambitions.

 

Could ScolioGold treatment help you to achieve your career goals?

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we've helped thousands of scoliosis patients to manage their condition and continue following their dreams. Here are just a few examples...

 

Solicitor Anna

Anna Russell, Solicitor

"By the end of my time [at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic] I could already feel the benefits. My posture is much better, my shoulders more level, and my spine looks straighter. Even my back doesn't ache."

Read Anna's Story >>

 

Nurse Edie

Edie Kirkwood, Nurse

"I have now gone back to work, as a result of the treatment, which for me is such a relief. I am one of the few people who generally love their job, and the thought of being unable to continue my passion was very distressing. My life is now back to normal."

Read Edie's Story >>

 

Farmer Carol

Carol Davies, Farmer

"I suffered for a long time and now I'm standing up straight, which I certainly wasn't before...we're now planting broadleaf trees for conservation, hoping to help with the carbon footprint of the world."

Read Carol's Story >>

 

Tattoo Artist Craig

Craig Piepru, Tattoo Artist

"I was suffering on a daily basis, sometimes to the point where I just had to stop working. The pain really was draining the life out of me."

Read Craig's Story >>

 

Opera star sings praises of back pain treatment

Dame Anne Evans, Opera Singer

"I had been suffering from excruciating back problems for some time and had been advised that the only answer was surgery. My condition was aggravated by the physical activity that was an integral part of my career as an opera singer. I cannot explain how grateful I am to Scoliosis SOS. I was given a programme tailored to my particular needs...if I get a twinge of pain, instead of popping anti-inflammatory pills, I just go to the bars for a few exercises and it goes away."

Read Dame Anne's Story >>

 

Vet Nurse Josie

Josie Stone, Vet

"I am ecstatic to have found these exercises. No words can describe the relief I felt when my pain started to disappear. I have always wanted to work with animals, and the idea of having to put off my dreams and go through major surgery was terrifying. I feel so lucky to have found an answer to my problems."

Read Josie's Story >>

 

And if all of those stories haven't convinced you, consider this one final response we received to the question we posted on social media: Have you ever had any problems at work because of your scoliosis?

 

"All the time! Although much less after working with you legends."

– Faye via Instagram

 

Use the links below to find out more about the Scoliosis SOS Clinic and how we can help you to overcome the problems some face while working with scoliosis.

About Our Treatment Method   Book an Initial Consultation

Further reading: Coping with Scoliosis When You Work at a Desk

Beyond a Curved Spine is a Nigeria-based nonprofit whose goals are to raise scoliosis awareness and provide support for people with scoliosis ('Scoliwarriors', to borrow their term).

BACS co-founder Abimbola Oladapo very kindly agreed to answer some questions from the Scoliosis SOS team and tell us a little bit more about her own scoliosis story, as well as the past, present and future of Beyond a Curved Spine.

Abimbola Oladapo, co-founder of Beyond a Curved Spine 

First of all, please tell us a little about yourself - who are you?

My name is Abimbola Oladapo and I'm such a lover (haha - that's the one thing I like to be labelled as). I'm a happy person, scoliosis warrior and Nigerian.

I am also the co-founder of a nonprofit called Beyond a Curved Spine - where we advocate for scoliosis awareness - and I occasionally blog at onepowerwoman.com. Some of my favourite things to do include unravelling new places and making strangers smile.

 

What's your experience with scoliosis?

My scoliosis story started in 2004. I was about 11 years old and in Year 9. My sister noticed my back wasn't looking "normal" - it was slanted, and it showed in the way I walked. At first, she thought it was as a result of bad posture ("swag") and constantly cautioned me to "stand / walk straight and stop spoiling my posture".

Everyone thought I was trying to be cool, when it was simply all shades of scoliosis symptoms. A few months down the line...and my back was looking like a letter 'S'. At this point, it was obviously more than bad posture. I had just returned from boarding school for the Easter holidays. I'll never forget: my mum took me to the hospital and it was the first either of us would hear of scoliosis.

It's been fifteen years since then. I haven't gotten any treatment apart from bracing and exercising, although my curve isn't mild. I think I've kind of gotten used to living with an 'S' on my back - and the good, the bad and the ugly that comes with it. Sometimes I just really want to get out of my skin; other times, I feel like I've got my own back.

Overall, I think I'm at that place where I'm intentionally stronger than scoliosis. I'm positive that someday and soon, I will be scoliosis-free!

 

You came to visit the Scoliosis SOS Clinic some years ago. What did you think?

Yes, in 2011. I was visiting family in London and we'd found the Scoliosis SOS Clinic on Google. It looked really good online, so we booked an appointment and visited the clinic - I've actually still got my consultation report!

The clinic looked even better in real life. The facility was great, the staff were friendly, and reading testimonials from Scoliwarriors who'd been through the treatment was really encouraging!

I think the treatment Scoliosis SOS provide is gold (ScolioGold - ha!), and I'll advise anyone who can afford it to give it a try.

 

What inspired you to start Beyond a Curved Spine?

A number of things, actually. After being diagnosed with scoliosis in high school, I was pretty much left alone, with no resources, no information, nothing. I'd gotten a back brace from the national orthopaedic hospitals here in Nigeria, but that was about it. And it was pretty awful! I didn't know how to care for my brace or what activities to avoid. I resorted to emailing doctors abroad and reading stuff on Google.

Abimbola with scoliosis brace

Fast-forward to many years later, after I'd finished university. I started to notice more people with scoliosis symptoms. I also realised there was a huge gap! No one was talking about scoliosis in Nigeria, yet many people suffered from it. Also, there was (and still is) a cultural belief that scoliosis patients - popularly referred to as 'hunchbacks' - are suitable candidates for money rituals, because the 'hump' on their backs is as a result of stored-up mercury that creates money. I pondered a lot about these issues.

Back in high school, I noticed a schoolmate's back was looking 'funny' while in the bathroom. I alerted her immediately, and because of this, her parents were able to immediately seek information and help, which resulted in a significant control in curve growth. This schoolmate became the co-founder of Beyond a Curved Spine.

All of the above factors, I believe, make up the foundation upon which BACS was established. We are driven by the notion that:

  • Spreading awareness will dispel cultural myths.

  • Early detection gives the best prognosis.

  • Every scoliosis warrior needs a support community rooted in love and strength - no one should walk this journey alone.

 

You've made it your mission to raise scoliosis awareness. How are you achieving this?

Raising scoliosis awareness is such a broad objective! However, we do try to take it one step at a time. Following our famous slogan - "raising scoliosis awareness, one city at a time" - we execute awareness projects in selected communities each time. For example, in 2018, we targeted secondary schools (based on the target age group 10-16) in some Local Government Areas in Lagos, Nigeria. We did a tour around a number of schools in the Yaba region alone, and we reached over 5,000 students.

This year, we're running a '5,000 for 5,000' campaign with the goal of distributing 5,000 infographics across 5,000 public spaces (schools, primary health centres, etc.) in Nigeria.

Beyond a Curved Spine raising scoliosis awareness

Apart from these targeted projects, we raise awareness via social media, traditional media (radio, newspapers, blogs and TV features), and at events/gatherings where we're given the opportunity to share.

 

What are Beyond a Curved Spine's goals for the future?

Although plans may be subject to future tweaks, our goals can be summarised into three:

  • To ensure that every household in Nigeria is scoliosis-aware.

  • To facilitate support - mental support, resource materials, and accessibility to quality treatment - for scoliosis warriors in this part of the world.

  • To advocate for improved and affordable healthcare on behalf of Scoliwarriors in Nigeria.

 

Finally, what advice would you give to someone who has just been told they have scoliosis?

Don't panic! You will be fine, you will still look good, you will meet someone who adores you silly, and you will inspire other people with your story!

Beyond a Curved Spine event

Now that you've been diagnosed, seek knowledge! Talk to your doctors and other professionals. Ask questions. Get to know all you can about your condition, and get treatment early! I like to say early diagnosis is a life saver - literally!

Also, be sensitive to your body and your curve. Take note of changes, pain, and how you feel. Be serious with your treatment and medical appointments. And never ever underestimate the power of a support system! Join a scoliosis support group - surround yourself with positive vibes and positive people who are readily available to walk you through this journey.

 

And what advice would you give to that person's family and loved ones?

Being present is healing! As much as you can, be there for the person. Listen when they need to share. Listen when they say they're tired. It's nice to do some research in order to better understand what they might be going through. Hold their hands through treatment. Just stay supportive and loving!

Be careful with words. Avoid using words like 'hunchback', 'deformity', 'disease' or 'bent'. 'Curvy' is a safe word to use, all the time.

Be caring, not pitying. While it's awesome to always watch out for Scoliwarriors and help them with physical tasks, you should never throw a pity-party around them. Treat them like 'normal' human beings, because they are normal - only curvy (and curvy is beautiful, by the way!). The keywords are compassion and thoughtfulness, not pity or condescension.

Thanks so much to Abimbola for her thoughtful, insightful answers. Be sure to follow @beyondacurvedS on Twitter and visit their website for more information.

 

More Q&A posts:

Rachel Mulvaney is the Vice President of Curvy Girls, an international support group for girls with scoliosis. You might remember that we interviewed the group's founder, Leah Stoltz, on the Scoliosis SOS blog last year - this time around, we have a Q&A with Rachel, whose scoliosis story is rather different from Leah's but no less inspirational.

Curvy Girls Scoliosis

So, Rachel - when did you first learn that you had scoliosis?

I was nine years old when my school nurse detected my curves during a scoliosis screening examination. With a 35-degree curve, bracing was immediately recommended - I wore a brace 16 hours a day for nearly 3 years. However, several months after I'd been discharged from bracing, my back pain worsened and we learned that my curve had progressed to 42 degrees.

It was during this time that my mother was doing research for the book that we were writing, Straight Talk with the Curvy Girls. We learned about a scoliosis-specific exercise called the Schroth method, and in 2010, I travelled to a scoliosis clinic in Wisconsin for an intensive two-week programme.

And how well did the treatment work?

I believe it worked very well for me. The back brace did stabilise my curves, but my scoliosis continued to progress as I was never educated on how to hold my body in an upright position without depending on my brace. It was the Schroth method that improved my scoliosis and eliminated my chronic back pain. Those scoliosis-specific exercises taught me how to strengthen my weakened muscles, maintain correction, and most importantly, live a pain-free life.

After eight months of consistently doing the exercises, my 42-degree curve reduced to 30 degrees. This was a surprise to my orthopaedic surgeon, as I was already skeletally matured. And my success did not end there - by the summer of 2013, my curved had reduced to 22 degrees.

How did you get involved with Curvy Girls?

I became involved with Curvy Girls before we even had a formal name! Twelve years ago, my physical therapist introduced me to Leah Stoltz, who told me that she wanted to start a scoliosis support group for people our age. When she asked if I would be interested in attending a meeting, I said yes without any hesitation. Several weeks later, I went to the first meeting at her home on 6th August 2006.

Tell us about the role you play in Curvy Girls today.

Today, I am proud to say that I am the Vice President of Curvy Girls. Since 2012, I have co-led and co-created our International Biennial Curvy Girls Scoliosis Conventions with Leah. I also serve as a mentor for our Curvy Girl Leaders in the New York and New England regions.

I also make myself available to educate and advocate for the Schroth method. Over the years, I have invited medical professionals (as well as newly-diagnosed families) into my home to demonstrate how effective these exercises can be for a scoliotic spine.

And what do you do in your life outside of Curvy Girls?

Outside of Curvy Girls, I work as a Care Coordinator II at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where I facilitate and manage an oncologists' clinic and help run our chemotherapy unit. I am also preparing to go back to college to receive my master's in Public Health. I have a strong interest in research, epidemiology and preventative care.

Has helping other people with their spinal curves helped you to come to terms with your own condition and experiences?

Absolutely - helping other girls was like a form of medicine to me. Educating families about the Schroth method helped me to discover a purpose and drive within me that I never knew existed.

Throughout my bracing years, I was told that my chronic back pain did not exist because scoliosis 'does not cause any pain'. I was one of many patients who were spoken to in this way. But after learning a programme that both validated and eliminated my pain, I was determined to spread the word. I wanted to make sure all Curvy Girl families had the opportunity to know that this treatment existed. How can we make the best decisions for our health if we don't know what all of our options are?

What advice would you give to a young girl who's just been diagnosed with scoliosis?

I would encourage that young girl to join a Curvy Girls chapter so she can see for herself that she is not alone. I would tell her about our conventions and how many girls she will meet from all around the world who are going through the same experiences she is.

And what advice would you give to the people close to them?

For family members, I would advise them to read Straight Talk with the Curvy Girls. This book includes health education, emotional support, and a dedicated section for parents.

For teachers, please show empathy and understanding of the needs she may have. Allow her to step away from her desk if she begins to feel back pain, as sitting for too long in a back brace can lead to discomfort. Excuse her from class if she needs to temporarily leave and take her brace off.

For friends, please be kind and accepting. This is a sensitive time for your friend. Offer to take her shopping to find clothes that will make her feel more confident when she wears her brace to school. You could even suggest helping her name her brace in order to make the brace a part of the friendship you all share.

Visit www.curvygirlsscoliosis.com to learn more about Curvy Girls, or follow @CurvyGirlsScoli on Twitter.

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we treat scoliosis using a Schroth-based programme called ScolioGold therapy - learn all about it here.

Travelling with Scoliosis

If you have scoliosis, you have probably suffered from back and/or shoulder pain in some form over the course of your life.

People with scoliosis often experience increased discomfort when they have to sit down for long periods of time. This means that long-haul flights and even long car journeys can become logistical nightmares - scoliosis-related pain can occur at any age, and even a mild spinal curve can cause a lot of pain.

Preparation is key!

When you book your flight, try to plan a schedule that will minimise your stress:

  • Consider taking a flight where there will be fewer people on board (and thus more room for you to lie across the seats if necessary).

  • Contact the airline prior to booking your flight and let them know that you suffer from back pain. They may be able to provide you with more information on which flights are least crowded.

  • If possible, try to limit your down time between in-flight connections or layovers.

  • If you can help it, don't schedule a flight that will require you to wake up extremely early.

During the journey

Once you've done some preparation, you can start thinking about how you will keep pain at bay during the flight itself:

  • Some kind of lower back support - e.g. a back roll or a couple of pillows from the flight attendant - can be a good way to prevent slouching and keep your spine straight, minimising lower back pain.

  • Bring a pillow to support your neck. Travel pillows can often be purchased at the airport if you forget to bring your own.

  • If you are unable to position your legs at a right angle while seated on the plane, ask for something (pillows, blankets) to prop your feet up and keep your knees at a right angle. Doing so keeps stress off the lower back.

  • If you have long legs, request an exit row or bulkhead seat, as these generally offer more leg room.

  • Ask for an upgrade! Occasionally, airlines will have additional seats with extra leg room available in first / business class, and if you explain your situation, they may upgrade you free of charge.

  • Move around during the flight. Staying still for prolonged periods stresses the spine and can make back pain much worse.

  • See if there is room at the back of the plane to do some quick stretches - these can improve flexibility and ease stiffness. Just make sure you stay in your seat during turbulence!

If you are a Scoliosis SOS patient and you're planning to go on a long car journey or flight, make sure you speak to your ScolioGold therapist and get some advice on what you can do to make your journey as comfortable as possible.

Contact Scoliosis SOS >