Tips for travelling with Chronic Pain
As Osteopaths, we see patients daily who suffer with chronic pain from all sorts of conditions and injury affecting different body areas.
Chronic pain is classified as pain which has been present for over 3 months. When chronic pain is present, usually the initial injury which caused the pain in the first place has healed. However, the lasting effect of the body experiencing pain is still present. This in turn may lead to altered movement patterns, mood, ability to exercise, work, sleep or even affect ability perform activities of daily living.
Chronic pain is exhausting and can be overwhelming.
There is no true answer or “fix” to chronic pain as it is a complex and has multifactorial layers within. If only there was “wonder drug” or we could wave a magic wand to decrease and remove the pain…
So the best way to help sufferers of chronic pain is actually pain management and education about pain.
Many of our patients have modified or adapted their lives to manage their chronic pain. This doesn’t mean they have to miss out on things like travelling!!
Here are some tips we like to give our patients on travelling with chronic pain.
- If you’re headed away on an aeroplane…
- Try and book an aisle seat so you can get up and move around when you need
- Walk up and down the plane every 45-90 minutes and try and do some stretches when you’re standing up to help prevent muscle tightness, stiffness and cramping
- Try and book a flight which has a direct and easy route, or if you prefer the option of a layover for 24 hours to break up the journey if you are travelling a long distance
- If you’re doing a driving holiday…,
- Take a lumbar cushion for the car
- Make sure you have lots of rest stops to allow you to get up and move and stretch
- If you have room take your own pillow from home to sleep at night
- Take with you your trusted hot water bottle or wheat bag with you and use a stick on heat pack for the plane – it can be wonderful help!
- Take an instant ice pack if you prefer ice therapy
- Take portable, small and travel friendly massage or stretching tools such as a spiky ball and theraband to help with niggling tight muscle pain and spasm
- Pack some magnesium in your toiletry bag for muscle spasm and tightness which may occur during long travel, or even on holidays when you may be spending a lot of the day on your feet exploring!
- Pack only what you can comfortably carry so you are not straining on lifting/bending or carrying more than you can manage.
- Make sure you pack comfortable shoes!!!!
- Make sure you plan your trip so you don’t do too much at once! Ie, pace yourself!! Don’t try and do too much as you wont be able to enjoy it as much if you try an see everything but are in too much pain or discomfort to appreciate what it is you are actually seeing!
- Make sure that if you are staying in a high rise, that your accommodation has a lift and you don’t have to walk up 5 flights of stairs to your room! And that you have a bath tub if you need a bath at the end of the day, and that you don’t have to sleep on an uncomfortable sofa bed!
- Make sure you have all medication you require on hand. You will also most likely need a letter fro m your doctor stating what it is you take, and amount to allow you through customs and border control if you are travelling through airports or train stations crossing international borders.
- Look at travel insurance in case you get stuck and need assistance. The last thing you need is further stress from worrying about further medical or travel bills if you see a doctor, or need further medication or prescriptions while you are away
- If you need travel assistance from the airline or at the airport – be in touch with your airline and request help. It is a free service to have wheelchair escorts as well as further assistance if you have a disability. You generally just need to give them some notice!
- Do exercises and stretches that you may have been prescribed by your Osteopath or doctor. It is important to keep them going! You will be surprised to see how easy they will be to do, and that they may be less painful, or easier to remember to do them too as you’re out of your normal routine!
And of course remember to breathe, and rest, eat well and avoid all your pain triggers. This may include stress while travelling, poor food choices, doing too much while you’re away or whatever else may make your pain worse.
So have fun! Relax! Enjoy and of course…. Travel Safe!!
Categories: General Information