Seven tips for traveling on an airplane after herniated disc surgery

If you have recently undergone herniated disc surgery, you are on your way to recovery and getting back to your everyday life free of pain. If you have airplane travel planned after surgery, whether for business or for pleasure, there are some easy steps you can take to make sure your trip is as comfortable and pain-free as possible.

Seven tips for traveling on an airplane after herniated disc surgery

  1. Follow your physician’s instructions. After herniated disc surgery, your medical team will provide you with detailed postoperative instructions. The instructions will detail any travel restrictions, activity limits or requirements, medications, physical therapy, among other details. Don’t travel until your physician has cleared you to do so. Some people find it helpful to take a letter from their physician with them describing their condition, symptoms and reasonable accommodations that can be made if needed.
  2. Plan for your medication needs. Pack any medication you will need for your trip, including prescription medication and over-the-counter pain medication. If you anticipate increased pain due to travel conditions, consult with your physician before your trip to see if he or she recommends any additional medication.
  3. Pack comfortable clothing. Pack clothing that is comfortable and allows you to remain active. If you are traveling to a cold climate, make sure you pack layered clothing to stay warm. Cold weather can aggravate symptoms if you don’t dress appropriately. Ask for assistance with luggage to avoid lifting heavy bags or suitcases.
  4. Eat and drink a normal and nutritious diet. When traveling people can overindulge, skip meals or forget to drink fluids. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a treat every now and then, but try to incorporate relatively healthy foods into most meals to avoid an upset stomach or increased internal inflammation. Keep a water bottle handy and drink whenever you are thirsty to avoid dehydration.
  5. Plan for your comfort. Pack a pillow or roll to use for back support during your trip, as most air travel requires sitting for an extended period of time in the plane and while waiting. You can use heat and ice therapy while traveling. Pack instant heat wraps or heat packs and pack a plastic bag that you can add ice to. Book an aisle seat so you have more legroom and the ability to get up and move around during the flight.
  6. Stay active. Walk around and stretch at least once per hour as allowed by the captain. Although walking in the airport is good exercise and keeps you active, if the distance to and from the gate is too far, ask for assistance. The airline can provide a wheelchair or a tram to transport you between the gates.
  7. Book your flight in advance. If you are traveling a short distance, book a direct flight if possible to avoid layovers. If you are traveling a long distance, you may want to break your trip up into two legs to give yourself time to walk around, eat and refresh during the layover.

After herniated disc surgery, travel should not be a problem if you plan ahead. Most of all, when traveling, try to relax, rest and enjoy the trip.

Contact Laser Spine Institute to find out more about herniated disc surgery and our minimally invasive procedures. We have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from neck and back pain. For more information about our minimally invasive procedures, contact us today.

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