But that shouldn’t dissuade you from booking your next vacation. Traveling with scoliosis doesn’t have to be a painful experience—it just takes a little extra planning. These travel tips for scoliosis patients can help you keep your pain levels down and summer enjoyment levels maximized:
Stress and fatigue can compound scoliosis travel pain. As you schedule your travel plans, think about ways to make the trip less stressful for yourself. Avoid departures that require you to wake up extremely early, and minimize downtime between connecting flights. Try to schedule your travel during less crowded times so you’ll have more space to stretch out.
Reach out to the airline
Air travel with scoliosis can be stressful, but sometimes simply asking for help can relieve the pressure. If you give your airline advance notice (a few weeks, if possible) that you have a medical condition, they can often arrange for:
• Wheelchair assistance
• Early boarding
• Help carrying and lifting luggage into the overhead bin
• Special shuttles and elevator platforms for boarding.
• Allow non-medical assistants to help you through security and boarding.
Get a doctor’s note
A note from your doctor could help you get the extra accommodations you need to make your trip more comfortable. One chronic back pain sufferer presented a medical letter to the airline and got an upgrade to business class along with extra blankets and pillows. The flight crew also allowed the traveler to walk around as often as needed and lie on the floor during the long flight.
Support your back
Slouching is a common trap for long-distance travelers, but a little support behind your lower back keeps your spine straight and helps ward off back pain. Specialized cushions filled with gel, memory foam or microfiber are relatively inexpensive, or in a pinch you can roll up a jacket or scarf to support the inward curve of your lower back.
Watch your legs
As you sit, your feet should rest on a firm surface to take some of the stress off your lower back. Ideally, your knees should form a right angle. If the seat’s too high, use a footrest to avoid transferring pressure to your lower spine. If you have long legs, ask to sit in an exit row or bulkhead seat, which usually has extra legroom. If you’re driving, use cruise control whenever possible so you can place both feet on the floor.
Use heat and ice
While traveling with back pain, alternating between heat and ice therapy can provide some relief. The heat relaxes the tissue around the spine and reduces pain signals in your body; the ice helps numb the swelling in your back. Check with your airline to find out what types of items are acceptable.
• Heat: Stock up on heat wraps or gel packs, or bring an empty hot water bottle and ask the flight attendant to fill it.
• Ice: Carry a small gel pack and ask the flight attendant to store it in the fridge when you’re not using it, or bring a Ziploc bag and ask to have it filled with ice.
Sitting in one position for too long causes your back muscles to stiffen, which can lead to aches or even spasms. If possible, get up and move around every 30 minutes. At minimum, stretch your back and legs at least every couple of hours, change your position in your seat every 15 to 20 minutes, and pump your ankles to keep the blood flowing. Learn more about exercises for scoliosis.
Take a Natural Pain Reliever
When you’re traveling with scoliosis, natural pain relievers can help alleviate back pain. ScoliPAIN plus, for example, is an organic time-release curcumin and black pepper extract that has been medically proven to reduce scoliosis pain levels by 40 percent.
With a little advance planning to help increase your comfort, but long distance travel and scoliosis can go hand in hand. These travel tips for scoliosis patients can help you make your trip as pain-free as possible.