Five Tips for Traveling with a Slipped Disc

If you’ve been diagnosed with a slipped disc, you’re probably less than thrilled about prospect of traveling by air. With its overly cramped quarters, narrow seating and limited opportunities to get up and walk around, air travel can be uncomfortable for anyone, and especially so for a person who is dealing with the discomfort of a slipped disc. The human spine is designed for motion, not to be confined for hours in an uncomfortable airplane seat.

One of the main things that makes flying so hard on the spine is the basic shape of an economy seat, which was clearly not created for traveler comfort. Instead, it was designed to allow the maximum number of seats to be crammed into an aircraft. Due in part to its C-shape, an economy seat simply lacks adequate support for the human body. After long flights, many passengers – even those with very healthy spines – find that they experience lingering neck, back or leg pain.

With that said, you’d needn’t resign yourself to several hours of misery if you have an upcoming flight. To fly more comfortably with a slipped disc, you should begin your preparations well in advance of your departure.

Traveling with a slipped disc

There are several proactive steps that you can take right now that will help you manage any discomfort from your slipped disc that might arise during your flight. For instance, here are five tips that many air travelers find helpful:

  1. Ask for an aisle seat – Because you won’t have to climb over your fellow passengers every time you want to get up, sitting in an aisle seat will make it easier for you to move around during your flight. You may want to tell the flight crew that you have a slipped disc and will need to walk the aisle occasionally (consider bringing a note from your physician).
  2. Check the flight schedule – Try to find out when the plane is least likely to be full (this can vary by destination) and book your flight accordingly. Empty seats will make it easier for you to get comfortable, move around and access your belongings without twisting and straining your back.
  3. Support your neck and back – Place a travel pillow at the small of your back to help keep your spine straight. If your feet do not touch the floor when you are seated, rest your feet on a travel footrest so that you can keep your knees bent comfortably at a right angle.
  4. Bring hot and cold packs – Gel packs that can be repeatedly heated or frozen can be helpful for easing the pain and inflammation of a slipped disc. Keep in mind that you may need to present a note from your physician to airport security when your carry-on baggage is screened.
  5. Take over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories – Medications can help you get through an uncomfortable flight. Just remember to take what you’ll need at least one hour before you expect your slipped disc pain to flare.

Laser Spine Institute

If you’d like to speak with our experienced medical team about treatment options for your slipped disc, contact Laser Spine Institute. We can provide information about our minimally invasive slipped disc surgery as well as a no-cost MRI review* to help you determine if you are a candidate.