Top Orthopedic Surgeon Shares Seven Ways To Reduce Back Pain During Long Summer Road Trips

Road trip season has arrived, but for people with back problems, the thought of sitting in a car for hours on end isn't exactly pleasant. DISC Sports & Spine Center's Dr. Gary Brazina is offering insights on how persons can preserve back health on the road.

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...road trips don’t have to be a pain in the neck—or back—if you’re well prepared.

Marina Del Rey, CA (PRWEB) July 14, 2014

Midway through summer, throngs of families are hitting the road to create their own versions of the National Lampoon classic “Vacation.” An estimated four out of five Americans, according to a May 2014 study conducted by Bridgestone Americas, embark on summer road trips. And while many find adventure along the way, others will experience nagging back pain as the result of hours cramped behind the wheel. Those with chronic spine ailments are especially susceptible.

“For these patients, riding in a car for an extended period is one of the more difficult positions,” explains orthopedic surgeon Dr. Gary Brazina of DISC Sports & Spine Center. “The seated position loads the axial spine and brings the center of gravity directly over the discs, which can increase pain. The problem is exacerbated by poor seats and poor posture, which worsen the load on the spine.”

The lumbar spine and cervical spine are most affected, according to Dr. Brazina, because sitting in a fixed position for long periods of time stiffens muscles, causes spasms and shortens hip flexors. Sitting too close to the wheel can cause poor cervical and lumbar posture resulting in hyperextension of the neck and cramped legs.
 
“But road trips don’t have to be a pain in the neck—or back—if you’re well prepared,” Dr. Brazina adds. To that end, he suggests the following seven tips for reducing back pain during long summer road trips:

1. Prepare Your Body – If you’re predisposed to back problems, consider purchasing a lumbar support or pillow before your trip, and give yourself the chance to test it out for the right fit. Prior to leaving, take the time to stretch your muscles.

2. Pack for Success – Be careful when loading and unloading the trunk, minding the old adage to lift with your legs, not your back. Resist the urge to bend over when maneuvering heavy objects, and ask for help before pushing yourself too far.

3. Sit with a Purpose – Good posture is crucial in preventing back and neck pain on the road. Position your seat upright with your legs comfortably extended, so that your head and shoulders are in neutral.

4. Keep Things Moving – Change positions frequently, and consider trying some abdominal tightening exercises as you drive. If it’s safe, use cruise control to relax your right leg and stretch your hamstring while on the road.

5. Break it Up – Plan stops every two hours to allow yourself time to rest, walk around and stretch out cramped muscles. Stretch your hamstrings and quads, as they will tighten up, especially if you’re sitting too close to the wheel and your knees and hips are flexed for hours.

6. Share the Load – Don’t do it alone, if at all possible. Sharing the driving with another adult will allow you to relax both your muscles and your mind while you change positions and recline in the passenger seat.

7. Know When to Stop – If the pain becomes too intense, stop! Rest, ice and lay down with a pillow under your knees. If this doesn't help, or if you develop persistent numbness, loss of muscle power or bowel/bladder symptoms, call your physician.

About DISC Sports & Spine Center
DISC Sports & Spine Center (DISC) is one of America’s foremost providers of minimally invasive spine procedures and advanced microscopic techniques. DISC’s highly specialized physicians apply both established and innovative solutions to diagnose, treat and rehabilitate their patients in a one-stop, multi-disciplinary setting. With a wide range of specialists under one roof, the result is an unmatched continuity of care with more efficiency, less stress for the patient and a zero MRSA infection rate. DISC’s ambulatory surgery centers include Diagnostic and Interventional Surgical Center (Marina Del Rey) and DISC Surgery Center at Newport Beach. Both are accredited by the AAAHC and are located within minutes of major airports with reasonably priced hotels nearby, which is very convenient for out-of-town patients. DISC is also the official medical services provider for Red Bull and a proud partner of the LA Kings. For more information, contact 866-481-DISC, or visit http://discmdgroup.com.