How do people manage to drive for long periods whilst suffering arthritic hips?


I was diagnosed with arthritic hips a couple of months ago, and suffer badly whilst driving. I have tried 2 cushions from Amazon that say they are designed for the arthritic hip condition, but are too small to fit on a car seat, and move every time you get in the car. I am using one of these cushions currently, which is better than sitting on the car seat without a cushion, but I am still in pain after driving for about 15 minutes.

I also suffer bad pain in bed, so any help on either of these problems will be gratefully received.


  • Shell_H
    Shell_H Member Posts: 548

    Hi @Druss - Welcome to the online community!

    I see you have Osteoarthritis in your hips, and you're looking for advise with coping with the pain, specifically while driving or in bed.

    This is something which is important to get right, as being able to carry on with our normal lives is a necessity. Sleep in particular is very important, as if you don't get enough sleep your pain gets worse everywhere.

    We normally advise people to try a mattress topper (or a new mattress) which is designed to take pressure off your joints. Often these have a memory foam layer at the top, which can help spread the pressure and has more give at the joints where you need it. If you can, go to a mattress / bed shop and try out a bunch and see what works for you in person, then you know what you're looking for.

    On a cheaper note, I'd also recommend taking some painkillers about half an hour before you go to sleep, so you get the best chance you have at being able to drop off naturally. Have a look at the information here.

    I'm hoping others in the community will have recommendations on driving aids, but we do have some information which may be of help to you:

    Please have a look around the rest of the community and join in any conversation which you find interesting - everyone is very welcome!

    Lovely to meet you,


  • Druss
    Druss Member Posts: 3

    Thank you for your comments, I do have a memory foam topper and even that feels too hard when lying on it. I do try sleeping with my hips on a soft pillow, which helps initially, but wears off as the night goes on. I do take co-codamol (30/1000) before going to bed and mid-way during the night if I get up.

    My car is automatic but unfortunately my right hip is the worst and it gets all the pedal work.

  • DebbieL
    DebbieL Member Posts: 64

    I have OA in my lower spine- L5 S1 which also gives me hip pain. I was taking 60/1000 co-codamol but it was taking 2 hours for the pain to ease enough to sleep. Turning over in bed during the night was agony. My doctor suggested nortriptyline - I was sceptical, but it made a real difference and I sleep a lot better. I have tried to reduce one or the other but find I need both. I try to be as active as possible in the day as being physically tired also helps me to sleep better. Being active is sometimes the last thing I want to do but I know now the benefits are worth it.

    I hope you find a solution to help you sleep. If I don’t sleep one night I try to have a sleep one afternoon to catch up a bit.


  • LizB12
    LizB12 Member Posts: 38

    Hi @Druss I also have been diagnosed with an arthritic hip, unfortunately the right one like you. Our car is an automatic which helped considerably with my arthritic left knee. Because of ongoing difficulties with pain and stiffness I haven’t driven since January and have missed it so much. My husband has to drive when I occasionally have to go anywhere. I don’t want to aggravate it any more than necessary, but it is really restricting my social life. I use a special coccyx cushion bought from Amazon for my passenger seat, which eases my pain and avoids jolts on bumpy roads. It fills the passenger seat so that might work for your driving perhaps. I hope you find a solution soon

  • Geraldine
    Geraldine Member Posts: 18

    I am awaiting by lateral hips surgery for three years....I have stayed driving, but am very wary of now carrying passengers, and cut down distances, due the excessive traffic on roads now lockdown is over, and concerned regarding the Small Print on my Car Insurance, should I be involved in a small / major accident, I feel I would be slaughtered by other parties

  • CCM
    CCM Member Posts: 113

    I drove extensively for work for many years (and miles). I made a practice of stopping regulary for a 10 minute walk at convenient services, which restored mobility and eased the discomfort.

  • LizB12
    LizB12 Member Posts: 38

    That sounds like good advice @CCM

  • RogerBill
    RogerBill Member Posts: 223

    An added suggestion if you're lucky enough to have a car with electrically adjustable seats. I find just a small regular adjustment to the backrest or sqab angles or fore and aft position or lumbar support provided relief between regular stops for a brief potter around. Manually adjustable seats are more difficult and dangerous to adjust while driving and electric seats usually provide a finer degree of adjustment.

    Heated seats are also really good for easing pain.

    Cars with higher seats are definitely better than low sports cars where the base of the seat is close to the floor. My brother had a Toyota Celica which even as a passenger caused me pain within a few minutes. Otherwise I found the difference between a comfortable and uncomfortable car seat only became apparent after a more extended drive.

    Finally the car suspension setup makes a huge difference. Cars with low profile tyres or hard sports suspension jolt and jar too much especially now UK road surfaces are getting worse each year. Because of this I can see why some now prefer gas guzzling 4x4 but there are more sensible modest cars which provide an equally comfortable ride for those of us who suffer with hip or back pain. Interestingly some older cars seem to have been designed more with comfort in mind than many newer cars with sporty intentions that look good in the showroom and appeal to motoring journalists.

    Sorry to ramble on but my work used to require me to drive many miles and then spend hours sitting at a computer keyboard. Changing my car helped enormously and since then I freely admit to having a bee in my bonnet about car seats, suspension and tyres.

  • Mike1
    Mike1 Member Posts: 1,992

    BEWARE if your arthritis is affecting the way you drive or you need special controls you just legally report such facts to the DVLA - see - you could face a heavy fine if you do not and your insurance may be invalidated. I reported my difficulties to the DVLA on-line after my GP questioned whether I should have been driving, then had another questionnaire sent to me which I completed, then went through their medical board and had my licence withdrawn. Initially I contacted my Insurers through Motability after I had installed additional mirrors because I could not turn my head and a knob on the steering wheel as I could not grip the wheel and they were happy. Now, as I live alone and use a wheelchair, I am virtually housebound.

  • RogerBill
    RogerBill Member Posts: 223

    Very good point @Mike1 I'm really sorry to hear you had your licence withdrawn, it's a situation which I would find tough to deal with. But the potential consequences to human life of driving while not fit and able are horrendous. Also the potential costs arising from an accident are almost limitless if you drive without insurance. You were certainly right to inform the DVLA.

    I've recently had a hip replacement operation and have asked my surgeon to write me a letter to say I'm now fit to drive. I'm hoping this will be acceptable evidence for my car insurance.

  • MaureenB
    MaureenB Member Posts: 29

    I have arthritis in both hips ( one now replaced) but luckily this did not affect me when driving. I find a TENS machine useful for targeted pain control without using painkillers. There is a section on this site on TENS. I have used both the wired version and the wireless version ( you can buy both at Lloyds the chemist), and I use the wireless ones for physical activity outside the home. The wireless version only offers one type of 'pulse' but it works well for me

  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 29,570

    I have a special wedge cushion for the car which I use as my car is quite low down and hurts my back and hips if I go too far. It designed for the car specifically and doesn't move.

    Anyone any ideas how to solve rapid carpal tunnel hands when driving????