International Travel after Spine Surgery

Category: Back Pain, Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: September 14, 2015

back pain on airplane

In a previous blog article we talked about some tips for avoiding back pain while flying. Here we are going to take that a step further and discuss how to avoid back pain during lengthy international flights. We will also talk about the potential restrictions on international travel after a spine surgery.

Is it Safe to Fly out of the Country after Surgery?

Post-operative instructions are incredibly important and can significantly speed up or slow down the recovery process depending on how closely the patient follows them. Depending on the procedure performed and your specific situation, your doctor may recommend that you avoid air travel completely for a time following your surgery. In other cases, your physician may allow short flights, but not long international flights.

The reason for this is simple – international flights require you to remain seated (often in uncomfortable seats) for long periods of time. A person recovering from back surgery needs to be able to stand up, walk around, and perform various rehabilitation exercises in order to spur on the recovery. On a 12 hour flight you may be able to get up a few times to go to the bathroom – depending on turbulence – but even those will be short-lived.

Avoiding Back Pain on International Flights

If you do decide to take a long international flight after your spinal surgery, there are a few things you can do to fend off back pain:

  • If you are on pain medication, take it according to your schedule. Be sure to have enough with you for the trip as well.
  • Get up and walk around the cabin when it’s safe to do so (when the seat-belt light is turned off).
  • Bring a comfortable neck pillow.
  • Maintain good sitting posture and avoid slouching.

The most important tip we can offer is to follow your surgeon’s post-op recommendations. Don’t take these tips as a substitute for your doctor’s orders. Listen to your doctor above all else and you’ll recover quickly.

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