5 Tips for Managing Back Pain While Driving

For back pain sufferers, everyday tasks such as sitting and driving may aggravate your back pain, leading to stiffness, soreness, or worse, unbearable pain. If you have been experiencing back pain for an extended period of time, most likely you have found ways to temporarily alleviate your pain, such as changing positions frequently or laying in certain positions. However, if you are planning Holiday travel this season, such as a road trip to grandma’s house, you may be dreading spending extended time in the car.

You’ve heard plenty of tips regarding how to sit and stand to avoid back pain, but few people talk about driving. If you have back pain, you’re well aware of the pain that becomes your unwanted passenger on road trips.If you’re one of the many who will spend considerable time behind the wheel this Holiday season, heed these spine tips to keep your back healthy:

Driving Tips to Alleviate Back Pain:

  1. Get Comfortable. Take a few seconds to get comfortable when you first get in the car. The slightest irritation can end up creating major back discomfort and pain after a long drive. Adjust your seat so that you are sitting up straight and your knees are slightly higher than your hips. Your arms should comfortably rest on the steering wheel. When your seat is too far back you can cause strain on your back by bending your back to reach the wheel and the controls. Also, place a small pillow or a rolled towel behind your lower back to give your lumbar extra support on long drives.
  2. Check your alignment. Empty your pockets before you get in the car. A wallet, cell phone or any other item in your pocket immediately sets your back out of alignment when you sit on it. Also, Pull your chin in slightly to your chest. This helps you keep your head straight and not bent out of alignment.
  3. Change Positions. When driving, change the settings on your seat every 20 to 30 minutes to prevent your body from staying in one position too long. Your body instinctively needs to move to keep limber. Stretch your back and hamstrings at every rest stop. Walk around to loosen up tightened muscles. Walking also helps to increase blood circulation that will reduce inflammation.
  4. Apply Ice and Heat. Apply an icepack to your back the minute you feel any pain. Carry an ice pack in your drink cooler — because the sooner you ice any discomfort, the better chance you have of staving off even greater pain as a result of inflammation. Alternate the ice with heat from a heating pad or from a hot water bottle or heated gel pack.
  5. Take a Break. If back pain becomes unbearable, you may have to give up the wheel to a passenger and take a rest in the back seat. It is okay to ask for help. Don’t overdo it.

Learn More About Managing Back Pain

If you are experiencing back pain, contact Carolina Orthopaedic Specialists, now EmergeOrtho: Foothills Region, today. Our team of experienced doctors and surgeons will help to diagnose, treat, and eliminate your back pain in time to enjoy the Holiday season. Request an appointment today.