10 Tips for Travelling with Joint Pain and Arthritis

Whether you are planning a quick weekend getaway or your dream holiday on a cruise, there’s plenty of excitement and planning for the trip. However, if you suffer from joint pain and arthritis, travelling may get a little stressful. But there are ways to manage the pain better and make travelling for business or pleasure easier with these smart tips.

Talk to an expert

Make an appointment to see your doctor and physio before making any bookings for the trip and go over details such as travel time, distance covered and activities you plan on doing, along with weather conditions you may experience. Your doctor will be able to prescribe extra medication and a medical letter in case of any emergencies and your physio will be able to provide advice on conditioning before you travel and how best to avoid flare ups and overuse.

Pack smart

Choose a lightweight suitcase with preferably four wheels so it rolls around easily, saving you the trouble of having to lift it. Packing light is also recommended. Make sure you pack your arthritis medication in your carry-on luggage, so it remains with you during the journey. This way you will be able to take your doses on time in case of flight delays or lost baggage. If your arthritis medication needs to be refrigerated, check with your local TerryWhite Chemmart pharmacist on advice of transporting and storing refrigerated medicines. Do not provide your refrigerated medicine to aeroplane staff to store, inflight fridges and check in baggage can freeze medication rendering them inactive, the same goes for accommodation. A visit to your local TerryWhite Chemmart pharmacist can make sure you are set with the right medication storage advice and maintain your best health on holidays.

Splurge on upgrades

Paying that little extra for the king bed or a Business Class upgrade will help to keep you comfortable during and after a long-haul flight. It will go a long way in ensuring you have a pleasant trip or holiday.

Think ahead

If you can choose your seat while booking a flight ticket, choose one that provides extra leg room or is an aisle seat. This will give you a better chance to stretch those limbs and walk around every so often. Request for assistance with luggage handling and mobility assistance for boarding or disembarking. Save your straining for looking at beautiful scenery and relaxing!

Light workout

Before travelling, especially on long-haul flights or a long road trip, warm up your body with some light exercises such as swimming and yoga. The buoyancy in water helps to relieve the pressure off joints. Speak to your physio about specific exercises for you.

Posture and exercise while being seated

No matter how you choose to travel, you will be seated for the better part of your journey. Speak to your local TerryWhite Chemmart pharmacist on good seat posture tips such as keeping your knees and hips at 90°angles with a straight back. Consider using a makeshift footrest to prop your feet on if they do not rest flat on the floor. Wiggle your toes with your feet flat on the ground and then keep your toes firm on the ground to move your heels for a bit of movement. Where there is legroom available, lift your leg until it is stretched out straight and you can feel the pull in your hamstring.

Stretch. Walk. Repeat.

One of the most common symptoms resulting from joint paint and arthritis is stiffness and swelling in affected joints. Travelling involves a fair amount of sitting. Your local TerryWhite Chemmart pharmacist will provide helpful advice on staying active during flights and road trips. Regularly getting up and walking down the aisle or during pit stops will keep your joints moving while simple stretches will prevent any stiffness. Stretching also prepares the body for all the sitting you do over your travels. The more you stretch and walk, the better for your joints.

Eat healthy and stay hydrated

While travelling it may be easy to slip up on your healthy eating habits, as often you are limited by unhealthy food choices. But it is important to be mindful about reaching out for healthy snacks as processed foods contain ingredients that may flare up inflammation in joints. Warm temperatures and not drinking enough water can easily lead to dehydration, which could make the symptoms worse. Consumption of excess alcohol may potentially make your joint pain worse, so be careful of your intake.

Bring along items to support your joints

Roll up a blanket or use a pillow to support your lower back. Remember to bring along a brace, ankle splints or any supporting bandages for your affected joints if you use them regularly. A neck pillow may help to take the pressure off affected areas.

Heat and ice therapy

Discuss your options with your local TerryWhite Chemmart pharmacist for taking along disposable heat packs if heat therapy helps ease the pain. If you find applying ice relieves the inflammation in joints, carry along resealable bags and request for ice. Set out a plan with your local TerryWhite Chemmart pharmacist for breakthrough and flare-up pain keeping breakthrough medication and rubs in your carry on.

Pharmacist tips

  • Some medications require specific storage conditions – make an appointment with your local TerryWhite Chemmart pharmacist before you travel.
  • Make sure you have a breakthrough and flare plan in place before you go.
  • Ensure you have enough medication to cover your trip and a medication list for customs, particularly for injectable medication.
  • Ensure your immunisations are up to date and prepared for the area you are travelling.
  • Conditioning and doing the “right” exercises can make all the difference. Make an appointment with your physio.
  • Ensure that any medication you need to take to protect from travel illness such as malaria or travellers diarrhoea does not interact with your regular medication. Make an appointment for a medication review with your local TerryWhite Chemmart pharmacist before you travel.
  • Get together a travel health pack including a first aid kit, pain relief and medicines for minor ailments.
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