Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house, or something close to that, is a trip many folks make each year around the holidays. According to the Institute of Medicine, more than 100 million of these travelers are living with chronic pain.
“But there are simple steps you can take to manage and control symptoms on your next trip. Taking these travel guidelines to heart can make a big difference in how you experience the holidays,” says Dr. Charles K. Friedman, the Medical Director at Pain Relief Centers who is Board Certified in Anesthesiology, Pain Medicine and Addiction Medicine. “I tell my patients to just remember the three P’s: pack, passage and plan.”
“Your luggage can be a big part of a painful trip,” Dr. Friedman explains. “Having bags that are too heavy can really damage your joints and strain muscles along your spine.” We suggest packing light and using a suitcase with wheels. “Avoid lifting your bags directly from the ground. For example, if you're putting bags in an overhead bin, place it on the seat in front of you first then lift it above your head.” He says lifting in stages like this can help avoid injury. Also, instead of twisting, Dr. Friedman says to pivot the feet. “Twisting your back in an awkward way can injure your spine, hips and even your knees.” Other suggestions include switching shoulders, or balancing your load, when carrying bags with one strap and always remembering to bend at the knees for added stability.
Getting to the destination may take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. “During the passage portion of the trip, remember to get up and stretch at least every two hours. Since you are stationary for a long time you don't want your muscles and joints to get stiff,” Dr. Friedman says. Bringing lumbar support can help ensure proper spine alignment. “It's also good to check your posture and make sure you aren't hunching over. One of the most important things you can do for the health of your back is keeping it in a neutral position.”
Sightseeing can be a great part of a vacation, but it can also be one of the most painful. “Know your limits when it comes to walking. Plan on only having one big sightseeing excursion per day,” says Dr. Friedman. “Bring comfortable shoes with good arch support. Bad shoes can hurt your feet, knees and back. It doesn't matter if you're walking 10 feet or 10 miles, you need a good pair of shoes.” Traveling with medication, Dr. Friedman says, takes a little extra effort. He suggests bringing enough to last at least two extra days in case the trip is extended for any reason. “During the holidays, no flight is ever guaranteed,” he adds. “Thinking ahead can make everything run more smoothly.”
Holiday travel can be a hassle, but it doesn't have to be a pain in the neck. Just remember to pack these simple tips and the holidays will be more enjoyable.
About Pain Relief Centers: Pain Relief Centers are multi-specialty practices that use a combination of innovative and minimally invasive treatments to help relieve patients’ pain and improve their quality of life. Pain Relief Centers’ Board-Certified physicians utilize advanced technology and interventional therapies to diagnose and treat pain effectively. Pain Relief Centers’ comprehensive approach ranges from osteopathic manipulation and nerve ablation to minimally invasive spine procedures. Pain Relief Centers physicians treat a variety of conditions such as neck and arm pain, back and leg pain, complex regional pain syndrome, degenerative disc disease, failed back syndrome, herniated discs and spinal stenosis. Pain Relief Centers strives to minimize patients’ pain so they can return to their busy lives. Visit http://www.PinellasPain.com or call 727-518-8660 for more information.
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