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5 Tips for Traveling With Arthritis

We can provide helpful stretching exercises to do while traveling long distances.

Whether you’re traveling for business or for pleasure, you want everything to go as smoothly as possible, which means keeping the discomfort and pain of arthritis at bay. Traveling under the best of circumstances can be stressful on your body, especially when you’re crammed into small spaces with little room to move. But this can really take a toll on arthritic joints.

At West County Rheumatology, under the experienced care of board-certified rheumatologist Dr. Sona Kamat, we understand the hurdles that travel presents to our clients who suffer from arthritis. To help your journeys go smoothly, we’ve pulled together five tips that should help you arrive at your destination ready to go.

1. It’s all about legroom

If you have arthritis in your lower extremities, especially in your knees and hips, spending hours with your legs in one position is a recipe for pain. If you’re traveling by air, be sure to book a seat that has a little extra room if you can. Many airlines charge for this, but the extra money you spend is well worth the few extra inches of legroom. 

You can also try and get a seat in the emergency exit row or bulkhead sections, which have ample space for your legs. If these are unavailable, at least try to get an aisle seat so you can stretch your legs into the aisle when it’s not busy. (Extra tip: Try not to store anything under the seat in front of you, so you can use the space to stretch your legs.)

If you’re traveling by car, be sure you can adjust the seat forward and back and take plenty of breaks at rest stops to stretch your legs.

2. Bring support

If you know you’re going to be logging more miles than usual getting through a busy airport or train or bus station, you may want to bring along some walking assistance, like a cane or scooter. As well, it’s a good idea to bring any braces that may help with your knees or ankles. Compression hose are helpful, as well. And make sure to stay hydrated.

If you have arthritis in your neck, be sure to bring a small, comfortable pillow so you can support your head. A small pillow works well for your back, too.

Lastly, heat and cold wraps are a great idea for travelers, so be sure to pack those in your carry-on bag.

3. Reduce your stress

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, stress can be an enormous trigger. Try to reduce the stress when you travel by planning ahead and giving yourself enough time at the points of departure and arrival. 

Better, yet, don’t try and do everything yourself — you can get wheelchair assistance at most travel centers, allowing you to be whisked to where you need to go without taxing your joints, or your stress levels.

4. Double-check your meds

If you’re taking prescription medications or simply over-the-counter drugs for your arthritis, be sure to have plenty on hand. A good rule of thumb is to bring along more than you might usually need, just in case pills get lost or you get delayed.

(Extra tip: Airports recommend that any prescription medication be kept in its original bottle with all of the information on the outside.)

5. Stretch and move

One of the best things you can do for your arthritis is to make sure your joints are well stretched out beforehand. Spend a little time before you get on the plane, on the bus, or in the car, running through a series of stretches to limber up your joints.

And if you’re spending hours in the air or on the road, take a few minutes every hour to stretch again. Get up and move to the bathroom area where you have a little room, and do what you can to keep your joints from stiffening. Even stretches like touching your toes or twisting your torso take very little space and deliver great benefits. Contact us and we will provide helpful stretching exercises to do while traveling long distances.


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