Back Pain And Air Travel–How To Prepare
Traveling, whether by road, sea, or by air can be an exciting and fun experience for many people. But the prospect of a long trip, especially by air, can be very discouraging for people experiencing back problems. And yes, this is justifiable, when you look at everything you go through during a trip, when you have to stand in the security line, drag around heavy luggage, or slouching in airport chairs, it’s no surprise that people with back pains or similar type of pains avoid travelling whenever possible.
Apart from all the inconveniences you experience before the trip starts, there’s the problem with the seats in cars, buses, trains and airplanes. Many of them are just not comfortable, they are not designed in a way that supports the natural curve of the spine. Except you are in first class, you will most likely find the seats are a little too small with minimal leg or elbow room. The problem then comes from sitting still for long periods in such a cramped space and the inability to move around. The human spine was not designed to be static, it was designed to move, thus, being confined for an extended time in such conditions can wreak havoc on already sore areas in the back and neck.
While considering all these, it is still very possible to survive long flights without going through a lot of pain or discomfort. A pleasant trip starts with proper preparation, before you even get to the airport. Preparation begins with discussing things out with your doctor or physician as this is the best person to talk to before going on a trip. If you are suffering from any kind of back pain, it is important to first consult your doctor and discuss all health issues with your doctor. He or she will be able to understand the extent of your pain and symptoms before endorsing your decision to travel and provide any recommendations for medication and extra prescriptions drugs like narcotics or muscle relaxants, or other aids that might increase your comfort during your flight. You should consider taking a doctor’s note along with you and inform the flight attendants that you are on medication. Also, a letter from your doctor to your airline might just be enough to allow the flight crew to give you special accommodations and treatment. This can even help you secure a seat that has more room or in case you run out of medication.
Contact Your Airline Prior to Travel
Before your trip, it can be very helpful to call your airline and inform them about your back problem. When they know about your health problems, they can give you specific information regarding your booking and travelling conditions. They will also be able to provide you with special medical attention such as allowing non-medicals to assist and accompany you through security and boarding.
Also, book your flight for a time of the day when the plane is less likely to be completely full. This way, there will be enough space for you to stretch, change sitting positions, or even move around without remaining static throughout the journey. You can request to be seated in a row with extra leg room which is usually the exit row, or at least an aisle seat which gives you a bit of freedom to get out of your seat as necessary. Getting up and stretching at least once in every hour can help stimulate blood flow which will then help in bringing important nutrients and oxygen to structures of the back, helping to prevent tissues in the back from stiffening or aching in the process. If possible or when it’s not out of your budget, you can book a first class or business class seat.
Be smart with Your Luggage
If you are suffering from any kind of back problem and you are carrying a lot of heavy luggage, then you are putting yourself at risk of straining the muscle in your back. The best way to prevent this from happening is to avoid over-packing items, and carry a small-sized bag.
Another good option is to use a small and light suitcase with wheels and a handle for rolling, do not hesitate to ask a stronger travel companion or a flight attendant for assistance with luggage whenever possible. If you really do need to carry a heavy luggage, then consider shipping all your bags to your destination ahead of time. This way, you wouldn’t need to worry about carrying any luggage and you can just carry a small bag onboard if you want to.
Safe and Adequate Medication
There’s every chance that you can run of your medication while you are travelling, so it is very important to bring along all your medications in the right proportions. Make sure to carry them in their original containers to avoid trouble in case of airport security inspection. Again, your doctor’s note can help in this situation. Keep your medications with you throughout the trip and never get separated from them. Also, there are certain medications that you’ll need to take at least an hour before your flight to allow it get into your blood stream.
You should also know that your body can easily get dehydrated due to the very low pressure and humidity levels in the pressurized air cabin. Drinking a lot of water before and during your flight can help prevent problems that can be caused by dehydration.
Personal Back Support Equipment
Even after you’ve taken all necessary measures, back pain can still flare up while on a trip. There are many tactics and equipment that can help reduce or completely keep pain away from you during a flight. A good equipment that can support your lower back and make your flight more comfortable is a Lumbar support pillow. This will keep your spine from being stiff. If you don’t have one, you can place an airplane pillow or blanket between the seat and your low back. You can also try to roll up a jacket or sweater to provide support for your low back. Back braces and tube-shaped pillows with microfibers inside are other materials that can provide support to someone experiencing back problems during a flight. For more information on back support check my post on back support products
Also, to avoid stressing the low back, you can consider using a footrest. If a TENS unit is suitable for you, you can get a letter from your physician explaining your need to use it so as to get you through security or give information to the flight crew.
So, when next you are planning a travel, remember to combine everything that can make travel as pleasurable as possible. Your favorite, a new book, or some soothing music are some of the things that can also help in making sure you have a great trip. Do you suffer from a bad back and planning to travel by air? Or have done so already? Chime in and leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.
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