“How to beat aches and pains if you love to travel”
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
Traveling is one of the finer pleasures in life.
Being able to see how other people and cultures survive and thrive is a real treat. And being able to sample different types of food, see the magnificent cathedrals and museums of the world, and view the magnificent natural and made-made wonders of the world is an opportunity many of us long for. But traveling can also bring… PAIN!
Traveling is a set up for neck pain. The long hours spent lifting and carrying luggage and gifts... along with the driving or flying you often need to do can lead to neck strain. This causes muscle aches in the neck and shoulders. You can also get headaches. So what do you do? Well, first, recognize that this is going to happen if you don’t take frequent breaks particularly if you hold your head in one position for a long time. It’s a good idea to stretch before, during, and after your trip. When going long distances in either a car or a plane, consider using a lumbar roll. This is a type of cushion that fits in the small of your back and can alleviate a lot of stress and strain on your back.
Also consider using a neck support pillow for long trips in a car or plane.
Also, if you carry a backpack, this can lead to neck pain. Try to use a pack that places most of the load on your hips. Try to avoid heavy loads altogether if you have a neck problem
Your shoulders can also hurt. When you work with your arms held in one position… and especially if you work with your arms above shoulder level, you can run into a problem called impingement syndrome. This is when your rotator cuff tendons get pinched. It’s a common problem. Specific stretching exercises for the shoulder before and after you do any type of activity that requires arm movement should help. Also, make sure you take frequent breaks. Ice packs after you work sometimes help with the pain as do over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines.
Elbow pain is a common problem after any type of repetitive arm motion. Using a manual clutch if you’re used to automatic, writing, using an unfamiliar computer, carrying your luggage or doing any type of repetitive activity to get the trip off to a good start can lead to painful condition called lateral epicondylitis. This is a type of tendonitis that affects the outside part of the elbow. Stretching before you start can help as can stretching and ice after you work. Anti-inflammatory medicines, an elbow band, and physical therapy also can help. The best form of treatment for this type of elbow problem is ultrasound-guided injection of platelet-rich plasma (PRP). PRP is an ultraconcentrate of blood that contains a large number of platelets. Platelets are cells that are packed with growth and healing factors. PRP heals the tendon as opposed to the old cortisone treatment that weakens tendon tissue.
Hand and wrist pain is another common problem. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition where the median nerve into the hand gets pinched. This causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand. Treatment consists of physical therapy, a splint, and sometime injecting with steroid. In some instances, surgery is required. Different forms of tendonitis can also develop. You can get trigger finger where the finger seems to stick. A painful tendonitis of the thumb can also be a result of traveling.
Low back pain can come on from standing too long in one place or by lifting and carrying heavy articles. Make sure you lift with your legs. You may need to go down on one knee before you lift. Keep your back straight and your head up. Test the item you’re going to lift before you lift it. Don’t twist. Stretch before you travel and also afterward. Use ice packs if you strain your back. Over the counter medication can sometimes help also. See your doctor if the pain is severe or doesn’t go away within a day or two.
Sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings… especially if the mattress is not to your liking, may not be best for your back. Make sure you have a well-cushioned mattress. Use some support for your head and neck or you’ll wake up miserable. A neck support pillow can help a lot.
Ascending hills and stairs can lead to hip pain at the end of the day. Stretch at the beginning and at the end of the day. There are excellent hip stretches available.
Knee pain can result if you’re not careful when you squat. Be careful not to go down too long or with too much weight. Walking on uneven ground can also hurt your knees. Cobblestone sidewalks are quaint but they can also do a number on your knees. Sitting at a concert or walking around at a festival can lead to a stiff low back, hips, or knees... or all three!
Make sure you stretch. Moist heat can help loosen things up. Acute injuries though should be treated with ice!
Wear comfortable shoes to protect your ankles and feet. Use orthotics if you have flat feet or high arches. Make sure your shoes fit well.
When traveling, consider buying a travel vest. A travel vest has a lot of pockets. The pockets generally fasten with Velcro or zippers. Many useful utensils and items can be kept in the pockets of the travel vest. And they look cool!
For traveling, try to get a bulkhead seat on an airplane. There’s more legroom than in other seats. Also, if you’re relatively fit, get a seat in the emergency aisle. There’s usually more legroom there. Ask for assistance putting your bags in the overhead bin. This will avoid twisting movements that could hurt your knee or lifting of an object over your head that sometimes causes shoulder strain.
Use a pillbox that will hold your medicines for the period of time you’ll be away. it will save time and space.
If it’s going to be chilly, use hand warmers. You can get these at most camp supply stores.
Rest when you need to. Don’t overextend. And drink plenty of water.
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Click here Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
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