Let’s face it, it’s hard to drive long distances with back pain. The ideal situation would be to get out of the car every 20-30 minutes to stand, move around, or stretch, but that’s not too practical, especially traveling long distances. Here’s my tricks to try to bring relief to the low back pain sufferer. Pack the above items for your car ride: a cooler, gel ice pack, a hand towel, a small pillow, water and coconut water. The cooler is for the ice pack, water and coconut water. The beverages are for hydration to avoid muscle cramping. Your car may or may not have a lumbar support, but that does not matter. You have a small pillow and rolled up hand towel for support. Switch between the lumbar support, the pillow and towel throughout the trip. I tell my patients to keep changing the amount of lumbar support to have your back experience different angles, but if one really suits you, then stick with that. Use the ice pack as needed for pain control. Remember that ice is one of the strongest anti inflammatories over the counter. Some rules of thumb when using ice: a gel pack is most comfortable, never apply ice directly to skin (wrap it with the hand towel), apply for 15 minutes only, you can optimize icing by applying the ice every 2 hours. Last, but probably most importantly, when you start to experience some discomfort, recline you seat back slightly. This opening of the seat angle takes pressure off the disc and nerve. If you are in extreme discomfort, it is best to go to a rest stop, walk a little bit and stretch gently.
Happy, safe and comfortable travels!