Back Pain and Traveling

Back Pain and Traveling

Back Pain and Traveling

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Back pain is inconvenient at best,  life altering at worst.   Still,  with or without it,  we must continue to do what we need to do to participate in the activities of life.  A common question asked by patients concern traveling.  The specific questions asked are, when I have back pain, can I ride on a plane?   Should I be driving with back pain?

Let’s take one question at a time.

If you have back pain,  but must travel by plane,  you need to plan ahead.  Especially if the flight is a long one,  you should request an aisle seat.  That way,  when allowable,   please get out of the seat.  As most back pain sufferers know,  sitting is usually the most uncomfortable position.  Standing up every hour or so allows you to take pressure off the back.  In addition,  the mere act of standing will stretch your muscles, and decrease the pressure on your lower disks.  Also,  as an added benefit,  standing, and walking will allow your circulation to improve,  and maybe will prevent developing a potential life threatening blood clot in your veins.

When taking a plane,  travel light.  Unless you have help carrying luggage,  you must plan to lift the luggage in the overhead bin,  or from the baggage carriage.  While many of your fellow passengers may assist you in some of the efforts,  that is no guarantee.   If you must have certain things at your destination,  you might consider shipping the item ahead of you, so you do not need to carry it.

While it is tempting to fall asleep on the longer flights,  you run the risk of falling alseep in an less than favorable position.  Many back pain sufferers awake with pains from sleeping.  Plane seats just do not accommodate a neutral sleeping position.  Stay awake, and maintain good sitting posture.  While it may be uncomfortable at times,  at least you are maintaining a better spine position when conscious.    As a corollary to not falling asleep on a plane,  please moderate the use of your pain medications and muscle relaxers on the flight for that very reason.

I am not suggesting everyone upgrade to the much more expensive first class seats.  But,  there is more room in those seats, and you may have more freedom to shift in those seats,  when having a significant back pain episode.

Finally,  on the longer flights, some patients find breaking up the flight with a layover makes travel more tolerable.

In the end,  the decision to fly,  and how to fly is ultimately up to you.  But consider the points above if you must travel by air.

Traveling by Car has more options.  If you are having a bad episode,  I suggest you let someone else drive.  If you must drive,  remember not to drive while taking narcotics or muscle relaxers.  Make frequent stops to stretch the muscles.  Consider the type of car seat.  If you have a choice,  avoid low bucket seats, and drive a vehicle that has a more upright, and firmer seat.  Make sure you maintain your lumbar lordosis while sitting, and use a lumbar roll.  If you have a very long drive,  consider breaking up the drive over several days.  Like flying,  consider the weight and type of luggage.

While these suggestions seem like common sense to some,  you will be surprised by the number of patients who have not thought of these issues when traveling.

 

Content from Dr. J Shim based on over 20 years as an Orthopaedic surgeon in private practice.

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Author and Contributor to www.Spine-Health.com – July, 2015

www.Spine-Health.com/author/john-h-shim-md-facs

Chief of Surgery, Mease Countryside and Mease Dunedin Hospitals, Safety Harbor and Dunedin, Florida. 2014-2016.

Orthopaedic Section Chief Mease Countryside Hospital; Safety Harbor, Florida Mease Dunedin Hospital; Dunedin, Florida.2008-2013

Board Member Morton Plant Mease Research Council

Co-Director of Mease Neuro-Ortho Spine Center Mease Dunedin Hospital; Dunedin, Florida.

One of “6 Spine Physicians Ranked #1 on Google” – December 2016

Top Ten Most Liked Spine Surgeons on the Internet – July 2016

2016 Spine Surgeons to Know list – January 2016

2014 Spine Specialists to know list – September 2014

One of Ten Leaders of Certified Spine Programs – December 2011

 

The Best Orthopedics in Tampa

The information provided on this website does not provide or should be considered medical advice. It is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. The information provided is for informational purposes only. You should not rely solely on the information provided on this website in making a decision to pursue a specific treatment or advice. You should consult directly with a professional healthcare provider.

As a condition of using the information on this website, ShimSpine and its physicians are not responsible for any advice, diagnosis, treatment or outcome you may obtain.

ShimSpine.com is completely self-funded. No outside funds are accepted or used. This website does not utilize paid advertising as a source of revenue.
Outpatient Spine Surgery Considerations. www.Spine-Health.com. January 2016.

What is Spinal Stenosis? www.Spine-Health.com. October 2015.

Surgeon insights on the Changing Landscape of Orthopedic Care. OrthopedicToday. June 2014

Chapter 33: Interspinous Spacers. Shim JH, Mazza JS, Kim DH Published in Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Published 2011)

Chapter 35: Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Lumbar Fusion Technique.Shim JH, Mazza JS, Kim DH Published in Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Published 2011)

March 2010 Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting New Orleans, Louisiana February 2010

February 2010 A Review of Dynamic Stabilization in the Lumbar Spine Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

November 2009 Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Community Based Lecture; Tampa, Florida

September 2009 Instructor/Proctor Minimally Invasive Lumbar Cadaver Lab; Tampa, Florida

February 2009 New Spinal Technology: Cervical Disc Replacement and Interspinous Spacers. Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

February 2008 The Degenerative Spine: The Role of Dynamic Lumbar Stablization and Interspinous Spacers Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

October 2008 Emerging Technology and Techniques in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

September 2007 Emerging Technology in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

October 2006 Emerging Technology and Techniques in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

May 2005 The Role of Kyphoplasty in the Treatment of Vertebral Compression Fractures Mease Neurosciences Symposium; Clearwater, Florida
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