As anyone with knee osteoarthritis can tell you, traveling can be a giant pain – literally. Most of the time the pain in your knee increases as a result of the travel. What occurs here is a phenomenon known as “gelling.” Simply put, this is when the synovial fluid that lubricates your knee and joints actually thickens as a result of the lack of mobility. This stiffness of the knee can make traveling way too hard for most people suffering from knee pain.

But that doesn’t mean we have to either just grin and bear it or never travel again. There are some tips and things you can do to help combat this and make it easier to travel. Let’s go through some of the most important ones.

Getting There

First thing to do is to try and get yourself a good seat. Pay extra for legroom if needed. If on a flight, get the aisle seat so you can get up and move around. And remember that it’s more than OK to get special accommodations if you need them. Ask the people in charge if they are willing to find you a seat with the most leg room because of your knee pain. Get help putting away luggage, etc. All these companies will usually try and accommodate you and you shouldn’t be too shy to ask.

Next, let’s make sure we wear appropriate attire. This includes the right shoes and loose fitting clothing. Don’t wear very constrictive clothes or shoes that will just exacerbate the situation. You want to be as comfortable as possible and able to stretch as much as you can during the travel. Some of the best options are supportive shoes and yoga pants.

What to Bring and Do When You Get There

Bring all your necessary pain fighting gear with you. Your medications and supplements, and hot and cold packs are a must (and yes, you should be able to bring these on your flight). Don’t be afraid to use these things on your flight or car ride or train ride. About 40 minutes before your departure, take an over the counter anti-inflammatory. This can make the situation much easier. And once you get to your destination, try to stay at a place with a jacuzzi or sauna as the heat will alleviate the stiffness caused by the travel.

Get a great night’s sleep the night before traveling and wake up that morning doing stretching exercises to loosen up the joint. And once you get to your destination, don’t push yourself too hard. Stretch, relax, and remember not to overdo it just because you have gotten to your destination. Remember, the knee pain traveled with you as well. While traveling try as best as you can to get your full eight hours of sleep a night. Lack of sleep is a known knee pain trigger for those suffering from arthritis.

Additional Tips

Finally, remember that diet is vital. The same type of anti-inflammatory diet that can alleviate symptoms is the exact type of diet you should follow while traveling. Inflammation fighting foods like avocados, walnuts, cocoa, hummus, and low fat cheese and yogurt are key. We all want to have some fun and splurge on food while vacationing, right? Tri- and high fat, high calorie, and very processed foods should be kept to a minimum as they can trigger symptoms.

While traveling with knee osteoarthritis can be a pain, it shouldn’t stop you from being able to have fun and enjoy a vacation or a visit to the kids or grandkids. It’s just important to remember to take the little steps necessary to avoid exacerbating the symptoms. But most of all, try and have fun while traveling. Remember, sometimes the best medicine is nothing more than your own mood which can help make everything else feel better.