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How to Travel Comfortably With Joint Pain

How to Travel Comfortably With Joint Pain

How to Travel Comfortably With Joint Pain

Are you planning a trip? The process of booking your travel and anticipating the people and places you’ll see is an exciting one, but you might be one of the millions of Americans who have arthritis and chronic joint pain. While you might be hesitant to travel because of that pain, you can rest assured there are still ways to see the world comfortably.

Before you book your next trip, take some time to understand what triggers your pain and what you can do to mitigate it. Here are some helpful tips for traveling comfortably with joint pain.

What Causes Joint Pain While Traveling?

Joint pain after flying isn’t a pleasant experience. What causes pain to flare up while you are traveling? For one, traveling involves a lot of stop-and-go action, as you may have to rush to catch a plane or train. Next, you’ll likely be sitting stationary in a confined space for hours at a time. This kind of activity can exacerbate your joints, mainly if you’re already living with a condition like arthritis. The stress of traveling can also contribute to stiff muscles and painful joints.

While joint pain may seem inevitable, there are ways you can prepare for a smooth journey.

How to Pack When Traveling With Arthritis

Packing the right items can go a long way toward making your trip comfortable and fun. If you’re traveling with arthritis, remember to pack:

  • Medication: If you regularly use any kind of medication to manage your joint pain — prescription or over-the-counter — be sure to pack enough to last you for your trip. It’s also essential to bring a list of your medications with you in case of an emergency. Keeping some of your medication in your carry-on bag will mean it’s easily accessible throughout your flight.
  • Important medical information: In addition to your list of medications, it’s a good idea to have your doctor’s phone number and your emergency contact information in an accessible place.
  • Assistive devices: Do you use a cane or walker to help you get around? Even if you only use one of those devices occasionally, you don’t want to find yourself out of town and unable to access it. If you happen to have a flare-up on your trip, you’ll be prepared. Packing heat and ice packs can also help you manage any pain you feel during your trip.
  • Pillows: Packing the right kind of pillow can keep you comfortable while you travel, and while you sleep in a hotel or someone else’s home as a guest. For example, a neck pillow can help keep your neck supported while traveling via car, bus, or plane. 
  • Comfortable clothes and shoes: Minimize traveling joint pain by wearing the correct kinds of clothes and shoes. Consider wearing compression socks and shoes you can easily slip on and off.

While you want to remember to pack everything you need, try not to make your luggage too heavy. Instead, consider a lightweight suitcase with wheels, so you don’t put unnecessary strain on your body.

How to Travel Comfortably

  • Book with comfort in mind: When it comes to booking your travel, take a strategic approach. If you’re flying, look for nonstop flights so you can minimize your total travel time. You can also look for seats on the plane that offer you extra legroom. If you’re traveling by car, look for the fastest route and consider strategic stops along the way to allow you to get up and move.
  • Exercise: Staying seated for long periods can make you feel stiff and uncomfortable. Try to prepare for a long flight or drive with some light exercise. If you’re flying, you can also try some in-flight exercises, like small heel lifts and toe lifts. Take advantage of any opportunity to walk around the cabin when the captain allows it.
  • Stay hydrated: If you’re prone to knee pain after flying, or any other kind of joint pain, staying hydrated can help. Avoid alcohol, which can have a dehydrating effect, on your flight. Drinking plenty of water can help reduce the risk of joint stiffness.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help: If you’re feeling pain, avoid pushing yourself. If you’re at an airport, you can ask for wheelchair assistance to make your experience easier.

How to Enjoy Your Trip

Going on a trip isn’t just about getting to your intended location. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, you’ll want to be able to enjoy yourself. How can traveling with arthritis still be fun? Check out these tips below to ensure everything goes smoothly.

  • Plan your schedule: You don’t have to make the most detailed itinerary in the world, but it’s a good idea to have a general idea of what your schedule will look like when you’re out of town. Are the activities you have planned going to tire you out? Do you have alternative plans if you happen to have a flare-up? Planning can help ensure you don’t waste any time if the unexpected happens.
  • Think about what you eat: For many people, vacation is all about the chance to indulge in tasty food. While you can certainly treat yourself, keep in mind that eating anti-inflammatory foods and an overall healthy diet can help you manage your joint pain symptoms. Whatever you decide to eat, remember to drink plenty of water so you can stay hydrated.
  • Get enough rest: When you travel somewhere new, you might feel the urge to cram every waking moment with new sights and experiences. While it’s good to make the most of your time, try not to sacrifice a good night’s sleep to do so. Giving your body enough rest can help ensure you have the energy to enjoy the trip from start to finish.
  • Listen to your body: You might have high expectations for your vacation, but remember that everyone’s body has its limitations. If you notice the signs of a flare-up, take enough time to rest — and maybe swap that hike for a restful day on the beach. Pacing yourself will make the trip more memorable.

Schedule an Appointment With Spine INA

Living with joint pain is manageable. You can still have the freedom to do the things you love, including traveling. Finding the right diagnosis and treatment for your joint pain is essential, so whether you’re suffering from an injury, inflammation, overuse or arthritis, we can help you find the root cause. From there, we’ll work with you to form an individualized treatment plan to reduce your pain, improve your mobility and reclaim your quality of life. Contact us to make an appointment!

Linked sources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/pain/index.htm
  2. https://spineina.com/conditions/joint-pain/
  3. https://spineina.com/contact/

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