Tips for travelers recovering from facet disease

Recovering from facet disease is typically a slow process that usually involves a combination of conservative treatment options administered over a period of months or even years. During this time, patients are advised to avoid situations and activities that may aggravate their symptoms. This can include lifting heavy objects, maintaining an unhealthy weight, sitting in one position for too long and smoking and drinking to excess.

Another often-mentioned activity to avoid during facet disease recovery is travel, especially if it means being behind the wheel for an extended period. Most patients, however, have neither the luxury nor the inclination to put off an important business trip or a visit to loved ones until their pain completely subsides. If you have been diagnosed with facet disease and are in the process of planning a trip, the following tips can help make your travels more comfortable and less likely to aggravate your symptoms:

  1. Use a backpack. A backpack distributes the weight of its contents evenly against your shoulders, unlike other bags that force one side of the body to bear all the weight. This can lead to poor posture and muscle strain. Another advantage of a backpack is that it leaves your hands free to hold on to handrails for additional balance and support.
  2. Request an aisle seat. If you’re traveling by air, try and reserve an aisle seat. They’re easier to get into and out of and you won’t have to squeeze past other passengers if you need to use the restroom.
  3. Bring neck or back support. Car and airline seats do not provide adequate lumbar support and can encourage slouching. Back rolls and neck pillows will help keep your spine in proper alignment for the duration of the trip.
  4. Ship ahead. Hoisting heavy luggage into an overhead compartment or car trunk can be a recipe for disaster. If you have the time, consider shipping most of your baggage to your destination ahead of time.
  5. Move around and stretch as much as possible. If you’re driving a long distance, pull over at least every two hours to walk around and stretch. This will prevent muscles from stiffing up, improve your circulation, and boost your alertness.
  6. Use hot and cold compresses. To quickly relieve soreness, apply either heat or ice to the affected area. Disposable heat packs can provide hours of dependable warmth. For cold therapy, bring a large Ziploc bag and ask a flight attendant to fill it with ice from the drink cart, or keep a cooler of ice in your car.

If conservative treatment options have not provided satisfactory relief from your facet disease symptoms, you may be a candidate for the minimally invasive surgeries performed at Laser Spine Institute. To find out for sure, contact a member of our team today and ask about obtaining a free MRI review* as the first step toward lasting relief from chronic neck or back pain.