“I came here for pain and trouble with my TMJ. The staff here is very friendly and helpful. I would recommend them to anyone having trouble.”
Travel plans can mask the fact that travel itself can leave our backs — which often bear the brunt of heavy luggage, cramped transportation and unfa- miliar beds — vulnerable to further injury, according to Daveed Frazier, MD, an orthopedic spine surgeon at Atlantic Spine Center.
"Travel can be extraordinarily hard on the spine, something that may seem like an afterthought when we're excitedly making plans for our summer vacation," explains Frazier, who completed two spinal surgery fellowships and is a published author on spine disorders and treatment. "But between cumbersome bags, uncomfortable seats, and too-soft or -firm hotel mattresses, the very idea of travel can be daunting for those with pre-existing back or neck pain."
But injuring — or further injuring — your spine while on vacation doesn't have to happen if commonsense measures are taken before and during your trip, he says. Here's what Frazier tells his patients about how to protect their backs while traveling.
No matter where your travels take you, the one thing almost everyone needs to deal with is luggage. Beyond packing lightly, if possible, try to use luggage with wheels so you don't need to strain your back to carry heavy bags. Other baggage-conscious tips include:
Traveling doesn't always involve airplanes or trains — sometimes an old-fashioned road trip is the ticket to paradise. But whether you're sitting for hours on planes, trains or automobiles, the mere fact that you're sitting for long periods requires some forethought to prevent back pain. Frazier's tips include:
Once you reach your destination, you'll also reach your new (temporary) sleeping spot, which likely involves an unfamiliar mattress. Frazier offers a simple back-friendly tip for this eventuality.
"While you can't bring your own mattress along on trips — wouldn't that be wonderful? — you may be able to pack your own bed pillow," Frazier notes. "This is a good idea, since we usually wear in our pillows in such a way that make them most comfortable for us, and familiar to our neck and back."
What if, despite your best efforts, you experience a flare of back or neck pain while traveling? You may not be in your everyday surroundings, but that doesn't mean you can't pack a few things in your "emergency medicine kit" or pop in to a drugstore in your locale to make do, Frazier says. Here's what you might want to have on hand:
"Being aware of some common mistakes while traveling can help you avoid aggravating any existing back or neck pain, or experiencing new discomfort in those areas," Frazier says. "Everyone wants their vacation to be a relaxing, stress-free time. Often it takes just a few simple back-friendly precautions to make sure that holds true."