Tips for traveling with degenerative disc disease

When you have degenerative disc disease, even the most basic daily activities can become painful and have a significant effect on your quality of life. Traveling, for example, can aggravate the condition and just getting from one place to another can become nearly impossible for those dealing with degenerative disc disease. The good news is that there are a number of ways to manage your pain while you’re on the go.

What is degenerative disc disease?

First, let’s quickly review the condition itself. Degenerative disc disease is a spine condition that describes the gradual deterioration of the spinal discs. As the discs break down, their gel-like interiors can seep out and compress nearby nerve roots. Treatment of degenerative disc disease is focused on alleviating this compression, managing the patient’s pain and helping the disc to heal.

Minimizing neck & back pain while traveling

There are a number of ways in which travel — either by car, train or plane — can be made easier for people who are dealing with degenerative disc disease. The next time you take a trip, consider the following:

  • Don’t overdo it. When we’re traveling, we often push ourselves at an unreasonable pace in order to see and do everything. This can put too much pressure on the spine and make symptoms worse.
  • Relax. Stress greatly contributes to neck and back pain because tense muscles can add unnecessary pressure to the spine.
  • Get help with your bags. Use a cart if there is one available, and ask a porter or the people you are traveling with to assist you.
  • Ask your physician for help with the pain. Speak with your physician about pain medication, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroid injections.
  • Apply heat or ice. This is especially helpful at the end of the day, but a hot pack worn during the day can provide much needed relief.
  • If you’re sitting for prolonged periods of time, take frequent breaks. Stand up and walk to the bathroom and back when the captain says it is safe to do so while flying, and take frequent breaks to get out and stretch when traveling by car.

Treating degenerative disc disease with minimally invasive surgery

Many people are able to find relief from the neck and back pain caused by degenerative disc disease using conservative methods, like those listed above. However, there are cases in which surgery becomes necessary. If nonsurgical treatment has failed to bring you adequate relief after several weeks or months, contact Laser Spine Institute.We have helped more than 75,000 patients with our minimally invasive spine surgeries. If you’d like to find out whether you may be a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures, ask about receiving a free MRI review.*