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Planning a Summer Vacation and Traveling with Orthopedic Issues and Pain

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The summer is a great season to relax and take some much needed time off. If you suffer from orthopedic limitations and pain, you might be nervous that you will not be able to fully enjoy a summer vacation. With a few simple tips offered by Dana Zalkind, MD, Medical Director of the NEBH Pain Management Program, you can take comfort in knowing that you can travel and hopefully enjoy your vacation. 

Plan Ahead
If you suffer from orthopedic conditions such as arthritis, put your mind at ease before your vacation with proper planning. When traveling, try to make your trip as comfortable and stress-free as possible. If traveling by air, try to book a seat with extra legroom or on an aisle. You can travel during off peak hours to reduce the amount of time you are stuck in traffic or need to wait in long check-in lines.

Make Yourself Comfortable
Another way to make traveling more comfortable is to plan ahead and bring helpful tools to reduce pain and increase comfort. This equipment could include taking a pillow or seat cushion for added back, neck or knee support, or even a portable foot rest could be helpful. You could also pack other devices to use once you reach your destination, such as a heating pad, portable ice pack or a TENS unit. In addition, wear comfortable clothes and shoes so that you will feel more at ease during your journey. Support stockings are very helpful especially for air travel to prevent leg swelling.

Pack Light and Don’t Forget your Medications
When packing for your trip bring only what you will need. You might look for lighter luggage that rolls so that it is easier to transport. It might be a good idea to have someone help you when moving and carrying your bags if they are heavy or cumbersome.

Keep any medications you may need with you. These medications should be kept easily accessible and not left in checked luggage. Bring an adequate supply of your medication with you in case you have a flare up of symptoms or are away for longer than anticipated. Talk to your doctor about bringing your medication with you; also what are your options if you need to obtain more medication while on vacation. If you see a pain management specialist or orthopedist, plan your appointments so that you can manage your pain before you leave.

Be active
If you suffer from stiff joints it is a good idea to keep moving. You most likely will find yourself sitting for long periods of time when traveling. If you are in a car, train or plane, plan on either getting up and moving or stopping for a break. In addition, practice good posture while sitting to ease pressure on your joints and spine. Starting your day with a good stretching program will also help you during travel.

Flying with Orthopedic Implants
If you have had knee or hip replacement surgery or instrumented spine surgery, you may trigger the metal detector when going through airport security. Knowing what to expect and planning ahead will help ease potential stress and anxiety when going through security. Plan on extra time when going through the screening. You can let security officers know that you have an implant and inform them of its location.

Most importantly, vacations and traveling should be fun and enjoyable! 

Following these few tips should lead to a more relaxing and comfortable vacation. Consult with your physician about your individual needs before your great escape!

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