Dealing with pain is a part of everyday life for millions of people. Studies suggest that anywhere between 11% and 40% of adults suffer from chronic pain, which is defined as experiencing pain over an extended period of time.
Chronic pain can be caused by injury, nerve damage, certain autoimmune diseases or by fibromyalgia, a condition where sufferers experience pain all over their body without any apparent underlying cause. Whatever the source of the pain is, where quick and effective treatment is not possible (there is no known cure for fibromyalgia, for example), management of symptoms and triggers becomes an essential part of maintaining the quality of life.
Travel can be particularly challenging when it comes to pain management. Changes in routine, the stresses of long journeys, even the risk of getting carried away and doing things you wouldn’t normally take chances with at home can all lead to symptoms flaring up and ruining holidays.
That’s certainly no fun for anyone involved. So here are some simple tips for keeping chronic pain under wraps when you travel.
Take out appropriate insurance
It is important to bear in mind that if you need to seek medical assistance when you are abroad, you will usually have to pay for it, which can be extremely expensive. Every traveller should take out travel insurance to cover potential medical expenses if nothing else, but if you suffer from chronic pain, it is even more important that you take out the correct kind of policy.
Whatever the cause of your symptoms, you will be classed as having a pre-existing medical condition, which standard travel insurance policies won’t cover. You will need to seek out a provider who offers bespoke cover and who will tailor a policy to your medical history. Find out more here.
As well as finding an insurer that can cover your medical conditions, it’s also important to think about what you need covering. From cancellation limits to what you’re actually covered for – each travel insurer is different. With the recent news that LV have stopped selling travel insurance because of the coronavirus, if you wanted to be covered to cancel because of an unforeseen outbreak then you’d need to find a supplier like Staysure that can offer travel disruption for coronavirus.
Prioritise creature comforts
A significant part of effective pain management is knowing your own body and understanding what you need to stay relaxed, comfortable and pain-free. If, for example, you have a long term neck or back problem and always sleep with a certain pillow to help your posture while you sleep, make sure taking it with you is an absolute priority when you pack.
Carry appropriate pain relief
Some conditions that cause chronic pain require daily medication to control symptoms, and it is important to take these with you wherever you go. But even if you are not on any specific medication, it is a good idea to carry pain relief with you to help you cope if your symptoms do flare-up.
For many people who suffer from chronic pain, over the counter pain relief like paracetamol or ibuprofen are just not strong enough, so talk to your doctor about what you might be able to get on prescription. Bear in mind that some countries have stricter controls on certain pain relief medications than others, especially opioids, so make sure you get a letter from your doctor explaining what you are carrying and why.
Make a plan… and stick to it
If you are worried about your symptoms flaring up when you travel or your ability to cope, speak to your doctor. Come up with a plan – things that your doctor recommends doing to manage your pain, and also things he advises you not to do which could cause you issues, whether it is not sitting out in the sun for too long or avoiding long sightseeing trips when you are likely to be on your feet all day. And once you have your plan, however easy it is to get carried away in the moment when you are enjoying yourself on holiday, make sure you follow the advice. It’s not worth ruining your whole trip for one little indiscretion.