Holiday Traveling with Back Pain

If you suffer with back pain, daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning can be difficult and exhausting. Add to that the constant pain is invisible to those on the outside and can flare without warning.  This pain should prevent you from traveling during the holidays, it just requires some extra precautions and planning. 

Low Back Pain shouldn’t limit your traveling

Fill your medications well before your trip and make sure you have enough for the duration of your entire journey. Pack them in your carry-on bag (and never in your checked luggage), also put it within quick reach just in case you need them. Don’t forget to pack other helpful items like a heating pack, a neck pillow for long flights or train rides and a good pair of shoes if you plan to do a lot of walking.  Ask your doctor to write a note, describing your condition in case you might need medical assistance.  

Before your trip, give yourself extra time to pack and time to determine what you need to pack, preventing you from overpacking and having to deal with heavy suitcases.  The extra time spent planning will help reduce stress, because you’ll know you have everything you need to manage your pain.

If you are flying, plan to arrive at the airport early so you can maneuver through security and the terminal to your gate.  If you need a wheelchair at the airport, call your airline days before your flight so that they can make the proper arrangements.  

When passing through security and are selected for a secondary screen, let the TSA agents know about your issue so that they can help prevent a flare-up if they pat you down to hard (Remember the doctors note). There is a 3-ounce limit on liquids in a carry on when flying.  If you need liquid medications, let the security agents know about your liquid medications.

When you arrive at your gate be active but remain close to your gate so and take advantage of the extra time airlines give you to board.  

Even if you don’t suffer from back pain, flying can bring dread.  Cramped seats, limited space and recline, and small lavatories can make even the shortest flight seem like hours.  Try to book your flight as early as possible so that you can select an aisle seat near the middle or front of the airplane.  Having a seat here makes it easier to get on and off the airplane and has a smoother ride in turbulence.  If you weren’t able to secure that forward seat, the note from your doctor might help if speaking with a gate agent before you board.  

Many people with pain will be driving during the holiday season.  Going on that long drive can cause the usual soreness to become extreme.  If you are renting a car, make sure the car gives enough room to be comfortable. Plan your route and note the rest areas along the route where you can stop and stretch.  Make sure to hydrate during the long drive to flush your muscles and prevent increased pain and stiffness.  Plan your rest before, and during, the trip to avoid physical exhaustion which will also exacerbate your pain.  

If you need to travel a long distance, another great option is the train.  Train seats are larger (and more comfortable) than airplane seats plus it provides an opportunity to move around and stretch.  Better food than an airplane also!  If you feel uneasy about the upcoming travel, purchase travel insurance.  A small cost for peace of mind in the event you pain worsens.  This insurance will cover the cost of the trip!

Travelling is a challenge, for those suffering from back pain it can be even more challenging, but it shouldn’t stop you.  To ensure you have a comfortable trip planning is the key: double check you have all the essentials you will need (medications, braces) and plan to pack light.  Have your doctor write a note about your illness and have their contact information available.   Last but not least, enjoy the trip, that could be a trip of your lifetime!

Do you need a quick check up before your trip?  Click here for a FREE Discovery Visit to lean how we can help!

Andrew Vertson