What is an Orthopedic Cushion?

T. Broderick

An orthopedic cushion is a medical device designed to give support to a person's spine while sitting. This support gives relief to back pain sufferers, those who have undergone spinal surgery, and the elderly. A variety of designs exist from a simple cushion to one that is molded to fit the body's contours. Orthopedic cushions are built from lightweight material to make them both comfortable and portable. One can purchase an orthopedic cushion at Internet retailers and medical supply stores.

High end orthopedic cushions contain gel that provide extra support to the tailbone.
High end orthopedic cushions contain gel that provide extra support to the tailbone.

For sufferers of chronic back pain, an orthopedic cushion is a valuable tool. As the discs between the spine's vertebrae wear over time, the lack of this natural cushioning can lead to chronic pain, especially when a person is sitting. As harder or awkwardly shaped surfaces trigger attacks, a cushion provides the orthopedic support the body can no longer give. Those recovering from spinal surgery can experience similar pain. For them, an orthopedic cushion gives relief as the body heals.

Considering how an orthopedic cushion would appeal to many groups of people, different models exist. The simplest and usually least expensive are light foam pads covered in plastic. A step above is a pad with a near identical appearance, the difference being the inclusion of memory foam. Memory foam is a denser foam that better contours to the body's shape. Finally, higher end cushions generally contain gel as a support material and provide extra support to the tailbone.

Despite these differences in design and support material, the vast majority of orthopedic cushions are portable. Their light weight and relatively small size make them an unobtrusive addition to a home, office or other place where long periods of sitting occur. A few manufacturers have gone the extra step by designing cushions that fold in half, making them much easier to put in a bag or briefcase.

Before buying a cushion, it is advisable that one speak to his or her doctor. As there are many causes of back pain, one cushion might be more appropriate than another. Also, one must remember an orthopedic cushion only provides palliative relief. Medication or surgery may be required to heal the root cause of one's back pain.

Once a person knows which type of orthopedic cushion is right for him or her, a variety of Internet retailers and medical supply stores make shopping easy. Visiting a medical supply store has the added benefit of being able to try a cushion before purchase. Like with all shopping, it is advantageous to shop around and compare prices.

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