Chronic pain can already be challenging to deal with in everyday life, which means it’s often even harder to manage when you’re traveling. Aside from the chronic pain itself, you also have to avoid the sources of travel-related aches to avoid adding to your discomfort.
Nevertheless, there are many ways you can keep your chronic pain at bay no matter where you’re going. If you are planning to travel soon, here are the best tips you should know on how to manage chronic pain while traveling.
Work with a pain management specialist
Chances are, you already have a pain management specialist or a primary care doctor that helps you manage your pain. Before your departure, it is highly advisable to visit your provider and inform them about your traveling plans. They will likely provide you with valuable advice on what to do to keep your pain at a minimum, depending on your condition.
It may also be a good idea to find alternative methods of pain management, such as yoga, guided meditation, or chiropractic treatment, among many others. If you are open to a more holistic approach, you may want to go to an acupuncture clinic and seek pain management from integrative medicine.
Pack more than enough pain medication
If you take medication as part of your pain management plan, be sure to bring more than enough for your trip, especially if you use prescription meds. You may not be able to fill out your prescription at your destination—especially if you are traveling overseas—and it’s best not to risk running out in the middle of a trip. Furthermore, ensure that your pain medication is in your carry-on to avoid the risk of losing them along with your luggage.
Pack over-the-counter pain medication, topical medication, and other pain management treatments you use regularly. Keep these within easy reach so that you can get immediate pain relief when you experience flare-ups.
Choose the right attire
Whether you’re traveling by plane, bus, or car, your outfit should be loose and comfortable, especially if you are going on a long-haul trip. Wear loose and soft clothing, choose a pair of comfortable shoes, and always have a jacket handy if it gets cold. If you are traveling by plane, it is highly recommended that you wear compression socks to avoid getting painful legs because of the cabin pressure.
Let other people know about your condition
It may be uncomfortable to let other people know about your chronic pain. Still, your travel companions should be aware so that they can better understand why you need to take a break sometimes or why you need to sit out on some activities. Furthermore, letting them know in advance will help you better plan your itinerary based on your limitations. Although you may have to sit out on some activities, you can still have fun doing something else.
Have a backup plan if you’re traveling alone
Although traveling with a companion or a group is often the best option for people with chronic pain, there are still many ways you can make solo travel more doable. In any case, you need to have a backup plan (or several) in case your pain gets too intense to deal with alone. Start by looking up hospitals or pain clinics near your hotel. It may be unlikely that you need to check into a hospital for pain, but it’s better to be prepared in case of an emergency.
Another tip is to think of a pain relief plan you can do on a flight, in an airport, or wherever you might be when the pain flares up. Aside from taking medication, you can also include in-seat stretching or using heat packs in your plan, along with any other form of pain relief that works best for you.
Rest whenever you can
Treat every stop as an opportunity to rest. Chronic pain can flare up with fatigue or staying in one position for too long. When you arrive at a gas station or a layover, stretch your legs. After you get to your hotel, set aside some time to rest your body before commencing the next activity on your itinerary. Lie down for a few hours if you must, and take a hot shower to relax your muscles right after.
Traveling with chronic pain is often difficult, but with strategies like these, minimizing or even eliminating your pain is often possible. Preparation is the key, along with mindfulness of your body and respecting your own limitations.