The holidays are a magical time of year. But if you have a history of low back pain, this can be a very challenging time of year as well. People with back pain need to take special precautions when they travel. With travel, you have a higher risk of new injuries to your back as well as an aggravation of your chronic pain. After all, you may have to carry luggage, sit for a long time in the seat with poor support, or sleep on an uncomfortable bed.
The way to travel this holiday season without pain is to do some thinking and planning before you leave home. Here are some helpful suggestions:
This may sound simple, but there is a right way, and a wrong way, to take your records with you. I suggest you go to Office Depot, get an old-fashioned chart with multiple tabs, and a pocket on one side. Each tab can represent different physician's notes, as well as a tab for diagnostic tests, laboratories, medications, and one tab for an overview or summary of your health history. The pocket on the other side of the chart is to store all of the CDs of imaging studies and diagnostic tests that have been performed. This simple act can quite literally be a lifesaver. If you have to go to an urgent care center or the emergency room, having this information is absolutely invaluable.
How you pack can make a huge difference in how you feel during your journey. Traveling with two small suitcases instead of one large, overstuffed suitcase can keep you from injury. Luggage that is easy to transport, one with wheels that work, can make all the difference what it comes to moving 30 or 40 pounds. Lifting heavy weight is the wrong thing for someone who has low back pain. With twisting and lifting, it is easy to herniate a lumbar disc. Also, make sure to pack all of your medications.
Whether you were referred by someone or made the decision to see a neurologist, the experience can be overwhelming. Your thoughts may range from, what if there is something seriously wrong with me? To... What if I have a serious and/or life-threatening neurologic condition?
Just the anticipation about the upcoming evaluation can lead to a less than productive visit. In some cases, patients are too nervous to point out all of their symptoms. In the moment, some may even forget the medications that they take, or even which physicians they have seen and who referred them.
All of these are common occurrences, but there are some very simple, concrete things you can do to help your neurologist help you get well.