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Traveling With Back Pain

The holidays are swiftly approaching and for most people the holidays bring friends, family, and a lot of traveling. Back pain is incredibly common across the globe – it is the single leading cause of disability worldwide and prevents millions of people from completing everyday activities. Traveling with back pain can be made simpler by following a few of these tips from our friends at Spine-Health.

Luggage Tips

  • Lift your luggage in stages. For example, when lifting a bag into an overhead bin, lift it to the arm of the seat, then to the top of the seatback, and then into the bin in separate motions.
  • Never twist while lifting. Pivot with your feet so that your whole body moves instead of just twisting your back.
  • Avoid heavy lifting if possible. Ask a flight attendant or nearby passenger for help.
  • Pack your luggage in 2 or 3 smaller bags rather than one large bag, especially if you will have to lift the bags out of car trunks, into overhead bins, etc.

Medication Tips

  • If there’s any chance you may run out of your medication while traveling, obtain a prescription from your doctor and bring it with you so you can buy more when required.
  • Make sure you keep all your medication with you in flight – do not check it with your luggage – in case you get separated from your luggage.
  • Keep medications in their containers. You could be detained in security for traveling with pills that aren’t in separate, labeled containers.

Pain Relief Tips

  • Bring extra Ziploc bags and ask a flight attendant to fill them with ice when needed. Place it between your lower back and the seat, and leave it on for 20 minutes to numb pain. Repeat as needed.
  • Heat wraps incorporate heating units across the low back area of the band and can last for several hours, making them ideal for longer trips.

Seat Tips

  • Place a small rolled-up airline pillow, blanket, or lumbar pillow between your back and the seat to support the natural inward curve of your lower back.
  • While seated, your knees should be bent at a right angle. If your seat is too high, place your feet on something that can act as a firm footrest, such as a book or box.

General Tips

  • Obtain a letter from your physician explaining your condition, medications, and treatment requirements. This can come in handy in many ways: when requesting an aisle seat, wheelchair assistance, getting your medications through security, requiring medical care while traveling, etc.
  • Drink water. Water helps to circulate healing nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. Drinking water frequently can help keep your pain at bay and keep your body hydrated.
  • Get up and move. Sitting in one position for extended periods of time can stiffen your back muscles, placing stress on the spine. Get up to stretch or move around every 20 to 30 minutes if possible.
  • Wear comfortable, supportive shoes if you will be walking distances through airports, train stations, etc. Slip-on shoes are easy to slip on and off without having to bend over when going through security.

Use these tips to make traveling with back pain more comfortable. Enjoy the holiday season!

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