When you’re experiencing a lot of pain, sitting down to relax should bring relief. Unfortunately, for seniors dealing with sores or tailbone-related injuries, such comfort can be difficult to come by. A donut pillow can help.
With so many types of donut pillows on the market, how do you know which one is right for you? We spoke to experts to learn how to pick the best donut pillow for your specific situation.
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What Is a Donut Pillow?
The donut pillow gets its name from its appearance—it’s a round cushion with a hole in the middle that’s designed to reduce pain caused by sitting on flat surfaces. The hole provides pressure relief for the tailbone and can make sitting a lot more comfortable. Portable and soft, donut pillows can come in handy in many situations, providing an easy solution to pain and discomfort.
What Are Donut Pillows Used for?
Donut pillows can provide much-needed pressure relief from the tailbone, according to Alex Aksanov, a physical therapist and administrator of Stay Active Physical Therapy, PLLC, in Larchmont, New York. They can also “prevent pressure sores, improve blood flow and allow sitting for long periods of time pain-free,” he says.
Aksanov adds that donut pillows can also be “used for post-surgical procedures, as well as conditions like sciatica, spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis.”
Who Should Use a Donut Pillow?
Anyone experiencing tailbone pain or pain while sitting can try using a donut pillow, which doesn’t require a prescription and can be ordered easily from many online retailers. However, some people do need them more than others. Aksanov recommends them specifically for “seniors who are immobile without ambulating for long periods of time, as well as those who have significant pressure sores.”
Ohio-based physical therapist Stephanie Carter Kelley adds that anyone who has sustained a fall or injury to the tailbone or coccyx should try using a donut pillow to relieve pressure while the area is healing.
While using donut pillows for hemorrhoid pain sounds logical, Aksanov recommends against it. “Due to the donut shape, there ends up being no cushion against the affected tissue, and they can make the pain significantly worse,” he explains. Simply put, donut pillows don’t offer enough support for hemorrhoid relief.
How to Use a Donut Pillow
Using a donut pillow sounds simple: You sit on it! But there are a few things to keep in mind before trying one.
Some donut pillows require inflation. “The pillow shouldn’t be inflated to the point where it creates an unstable sitting position,” says Kelley. “Inflate the pillow just enough to provide pressure relief.” In other words, you want the pillow to make you more comfortable, but not unstable.
It’s also important to position your pillow so that it’s centered in the chair seat and touching the line where the chair’s seat and backrest meet. “Place the center of your tailbone in the middle of the donut pillow and make sure each buttock is resting equally on either side of the cushion,” says Aksanov. “Lastly, lean slightly forward to help alleviate tailbone pressure.”
Donut Pillows vs. Coccyx Pillows
A coccyx pillow is also used to help alleviate pressure from the tailbone while sitting, and it’s fairly similar to a donut pillow. However, coccyx pillows don’t have a hole in the center—instead, they are U- or O-shaped with a small cutout section in the rear.
“Coccyx pillows are specifically designed for individuals with coccyx pain, such as fractures or pain related to pregnancy,” says Aksanov. Whichever pillow feels more comfortable for the individual, be it a donut pillow or coccyx pillow, is usually the best pick for them, he adds.
Find Coccyx Pillows For Seniors
Made with memory foam, these seat cushions are ergonomically designed to alleviate tailbone/coccyx pain. Explore vast selection of pillows from top brands on Amazon.
What to Consider When Buying a Donut Pillow for Seniors
Ready to buy your own donut pillow? Keep these factors in mind as you shop.
Purpose or Injury
Consider why you want to use a donut pillow in the first place:
- Pain relief from injury: Any donut pillow should be able to relieve pressure on your tailbone caused by sitting. The biggest advantage of donut pillows is that they’re especially helpful if you’ve injured your tailbone or you’re recovering from surgery.
- Hemorrhoids: As Aksanov noted, donut pillows are not always ideal for people with hemorrhoids since they don’t offer enough support for the problem area and can end up making the condition worse. If you do want to try a donut pillow for hemorrhoids, try to find one with an extra tailbone cushion.
- Improved posture: The way you sit on a donut pillow naturally improves posture because it forces you to sit up straight rather than slouch. Many people find donut pillows to be helpful in terms of posture.
- Extra comfort: Donut pillows provide comfort as they relieve pressure on the tailbone, and they can be used anywhere—sitting on a chair, on the couch or even in your car.
Pay attention to what your donut pillow is made of, as the material can affect the comfort level and durability of the pillow. Even though donut pillows aren’t very expensive, you still want to pick one that lasts and doesn’t lose its shape over time or tear easily.
- Gel foam: “Pillows made from gel foam offer durability and last for longer periods of time,” says Aksanov, recommending this type of pillow. They are soft, spongy and comfortable. Just be sure to opt for a high-quality pillow that won’t flatten easily.
- Memory foam: Memory foam pillows conform to your body shape with regular use and feel very comfortable and soft.
- Inflatable: Kelley recommends an inflatable pillow, usually made of nylon or vinyl, that needs to be filled with air before use. Inflation allows you to customize the feel and size of your pillow.
The size of the pillow is important when it comes to comfort. “The pillow should fit the individual’s body shape and size,” says Aksanov. “Avoid buying pillows that are one-size-fits all—it’s important that the pillow has features that fit the individual’s specific needs.”
You want your pillow to be soft, but you also want it to be firm enough to offer the proper amount of support—basically, the perfect middle ground. A high-density foam should hold its shape and offer the right amount of support. A pillow that is too soft or too thin isn’t ideal for seniors with heavier frames.
Ideally, you want a donut pillow that’s easy to take anywhere. You want to be able to use it in the car, when visiting family or in any room of the house. Most donut pillows are pretty portable—just be sure to choose a lightweight option that isn’t annoying to carry around, and if you can find one with a cover or carrying bag, that’s even better.
They might seem simple, but even donut pillows can come with useful special features, such as:
- A washable cover that can be removed and cleaned easily.
- A breathable or mesh cover that minimizes sweating.
- A non-slip bottom that keeps the pillow safely in place beneath you.
- A gel layer that keeps the pillow cool to the touch.
Donut pillows are fairly inexpensive—expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $60 for one. Prices vary, depending on the quality of the materials used, special features and size. Affordable options will work, but they may not last as long as a more expensive pillow made with high-quality materials.
Find Donut Pillows For Seniors
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