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Traveling With Joint Pain

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At the start of the year, it’s exciting to look ahead and make travel plans for the upcoming months. Maybe your New Year’s resolution was to go out and explore the world—or maybe you’re just hoping to escape the cold by traveling to a tropical destination. Whatever your plans, traveling can be challenging when you suffer from joint pain. Here are some tips from NEBH orthopedic surgeon Chris Sambaziotis, MD to make sure your pain doesn’t cause you or your loved one to miss out on your adventures.

Plan Ahead

Keep your joint pain in mind when you’re booking your travel arrangements. A long flight might be hard on your back, hips, and knees, but connecting flights might mean having to switch terminals quickly. Make arrangements to ensure your comfort before you travel:

  • If you are receiving injections for pain management, consider getting one in time to feel good for your trip.
  • Pack lightly and utilize rolling luggage. Even carry-on bags can come with wheels so you don’t have to worry about straining your shoulders carrying them. Always use proper lifting mechanics when transferring your suitcase, and ask for help if you have something heavy to lift.
  • If you have a long flight, stand up and take a walk around the cabin when you have the opportunity.
  • If you have a connecting flight in another terminal, the airport security or other officials can help transport you to your gate.

Make an Itinerary

It doesn’t matter what your destination is as long as you plan activities that will accommodate your joint pain.

  • As you plan your itinerary, alternate between days of activity and days of rest. If your first day involves a tour of a museum or a walking exploration of a city, make the next day a beach or spa day.
  • Consider taking a bus tour of your destination. You’ll get to see more of the city and surrounding areas, you’ll have some opportunities to walk, and you’ll also have short rests on the bus throughout the day.
  • Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes and clothes that are easy to move in.

Keep your Health on Your Mind

Especially if you’re inclined to try the local delicacies and desserts, try to maintain your normal exercise routine even when you’re traveling. You can also find ways to experience your destination while getting in a workout.

  • If you’re visiting a beach destination or location with a pool, start your day off with a swim. Swimming provides a complete body workout and combines cardiovascular fitness with building muscles. The buoyancy of the water supports the body’s weight, providing a low impact workout that reduces stress on the joints.
  • Turn your tour into your workout. Walking at a brisk pace around a city or strolling along the beach will engage almost every muscle in your body while you see the sights.
  • Cycling around your travel destination will increase your heart rate without putting a lot of pressure on your hip and knee joints.
  • Relax! If you’re staying at a hotel that offers a spa service or you’re traveling in a country renowned for its massage industry, indulging in a massage could ease some of your joint or muscle pain.

The most important part of traveling with joint pain is to listen to your body. If you’re in pain, let your travel companions know that you need to stop and take a rest. If you’re concerned about certain activities, talk to your doctor before your trip for specific advice on activities to do or avoid. Whether you’re counting down the days until a relaxing vacation or looking forward to seeing new sites, you can find creative ways to avoid joint pain interfering with the fun you have planned.