Concerned about arthritis when traveling?
Registered Nurse Jennifer Leeflang offers sage strategies to minimize symptoms and prevent arthritis flare-ups.
The risk of developing arthritis increases with age so if you’re 50 or over—even if you aren’t directly affected yourself—you are likely to know a friend, family member or fellow traveler who faces the pain, stiffness or swelling around joints commonly associated with this condition.
The demands and stresses of travel can exacerbate the discomfort of arthritis. For example, it can be difficult for travelers experiencing symptoms to stand on long queues at museums or airports; to climb stairs at towers, lighthouses or churches; to descend subway stairs; or even to take long walking or food tours of a city.
Jennifer Leeflang, RN, Senior Vice President of Partners in Care offers some practical suggestions to minimize nasty arthritis flare-ups when traveling:
- An excess of salt, sugar and caffeine in the diet can trigger and worsen the discomforts that come along with arthritis. Instead of ordering a gelato in your dream Italian café, try going for a fruit salad or a vegetable platter instead. Strawberries, watermelon, cherries, tomatoes and onions all have nutrients and antioxidants that aid in fighting inflammation.
- Moderate exercise paired with a proper diet can be extremely helpful in relieving joint pain. On particularly hot days, plan to do your outdoor touring early in the morning or late in the evening, leaving midday to rest inside. A short walk can help with warming up the joints; just make sure you’re on a smooth surface to avoid falls. Also, taking a dip in the pool or practicing some tai chi in your hotel room can help maintain flexibility.
- Depending on where you are traveling, high summer temperatures and differences in barometric pressure can trigger inflammation and discomfort. No matter whether you are visiting California or Norway, remember to slather on the sunscreen, especially if your skin is photosensitive from medication. Doctors recommend applying at least a tablespoon of sunscreen to the face and neck, and about a half-glass full for other body parts exposed to the sun. Don’t forget to reapply as needed!
- Before embarking on your summer adventures, be sure to meet with your doctor. Following your doctor’s instructions is vital when creating a regimen to help manage arthritis pain, and this holds true especially for when you are going to be away from your medical support system and regular routine for an extended period of time.
Partners in Care is an affiliate of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, the largest not-for-profit home and community-based health care in the country.
- Arthritis Basics from the Centers for Disease Control
- Tips for Pain-Free Travel from the Arthritis Foundation
- WebMD Arthritis Drug Overview