What to do for a pinched nerve when you’re on an airplane

If you frequently spend long periods of time on an airplane, knowing what to do for a pinched nerve while you travel is imperative to staying comfortable. Since a pinched nerve is caused by an anatomical abnormality, such as spinal stenosis, a ruptured disc or a disc protrusion, anything you can do to temporarily relieve this pressure will help you mitigate pain during your journey. Read on to learn about the methods for alleviating pinched nerve pain while on a flight as well as the next steps in developing a treatment plan once the plane is grounded.

Flight tips for relieving pinched nerve pain

People who have been diagnosed with a pinched nerve might consider a two to three hour airplane flight to be a recipe for future pain and discomfort. It important to prepare well and take advantage of the on-flight resources through the following precautions:

  • Support. Always pack a neck or lumbar support pillow to make your flight more comfortable. This will help your back stay in a neutral position rather than forcing it to conform to the contours of the airplane seat. If you forgot your pillow, check the overhead compartment for small pillows and blankets that you could use instead or ask a flight attendant.
  • Movement. When that seatbelt sign gets turned off, stand up and walk around. While an airplane’s aisle may be cramped, it’s important to stretch your legs at least once every hour. This will prevent stiff joints that could worsen the pain of a pinched nerve.
  • Cutaneous stimulation. Take a reusable hot and cold pack on the airplane with you. Ask the flight attendant to pop it in the airplane kitchenette’s microwave for a few minutes. Then, when the attendant comes through the aisle offering drinks, ask if they could put a few scoops of ice in a plastic bag. Hot and cold therapy help reduce inflammation and promote circulation, respectively.

Pinched nerve treatment options once the plane has landed

Once you are on the ground, you can breathe a sigh of relief and get back to your normal pinched nerve treatment regimen, which may include therapies such as low-impact exercise, chiropractic care, pain medication or acupuncture. If weeks or months of consistent conservative treatments do not reduce your signs of a pinched nerve, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our minimally invasive spine surgery, which is a safer and effective alternative to highly invasive traditional procedures.^

At our state-of-the-art facility, we specialize in minimally invasive procedures that have helped more than 75,000 patients to date find relief from neck and back pain. Our team of board-certified surgeons+ are able to access the nerve by using a less than 1-inch incision and muscle-sparing techniques, which results in less bleeding and a lower risk of complication compared to traditional open neck and back procedures. ^

To determine if you are a potential candidate for our advanced outpatient procedures, reach out to Laser Spine Institute today and ask for your no-cost MRI review.*

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