How I manage pain when travelling as a wheelchair user
Updated: Sep 22
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Pain management is part of my daily life as a disabled person. How I manage pain really depends on the day, and the issue I’m facing. I use medication, heat, stretching, massage, and if all else fails, complete rest.
But as wheelchair user, who loves to travel, how do I manage pain on trips and holidays?
I use a variety of medications to manage pain, depending on the scenario. I have a standard daily muscle relaxant which helps to decrease the spasticity in my muscles caused by Cerebral Palsy. I also have a ‘top up’ stronger relaxant for the days when the standard dose isn’t enough.
I use anti-inflammatory medication which helps with the pain that comes with sitting in a wheelchair for a long time. I also take a full magnesium supplement daily, which helps with muscle recovery.
Whenever I travel, I make sure I have all the medication I need daily, as well as the extra top-ups for bad pain days, and some ‘spare’ in case of delays. I use a daily medication organiser as a helpful tool.
Heat is one of my most effective pain-relieving methods! I use heated throws and lap pads, as well as wheat bags, daily for pain management. It really helps that allthese products are portable so I can take them with me wherever I need to, particularly after a long journey which can cause additional pain for me.
Whether it’s snuggling up under a heated throw in my holiday accommodation after a long day exploring or popping a wheat bag on my wheelchair cushion to ease pressure pain, I really would be lost without portable heat aids.
Stretching and massage
As someone who has Cerebral Palsy, often my muscles hurt the most when they need a good stretch. Spasticity means that most of my muscles are very tight, so massage to loosen them really helps too.
I use resistance bands to help me get the stretches I need daily. For travelling, they are so portable and lightweight, so I make sure I always have one in my wheelchair bag.
Sports massage has been beneficial for me, but it’s often costly and difficult to access if I need to relieve pain when travelling. For this I use a massage gun, which helps me to reach difficult areas of my shoulders and back and is easily popped into a case for travel.
Sometimes, even with all of the above, I still struggle with pain levels. On those days, for me rest is best. If I’m at home I’ll have a duvet day, and on trips I’ve had to learn how to travel in a slower paced way. Factoring in time to rest when you travel is one of my most important tips!
My last really important tip is to ensure that the mobility equipment you use when travelling meets your own needs as well as possible. For example, when you buy a wheelchair, be sure to test, test, and test again, in all the environments you’ll be using it regularly.
Most mobility reps will be able to arrange home demos, and a full seating assessment is crucial to avoid any unnecessary pain.
Read more product and mobility aid reviews for disabled travellers, including wheelchairs, power add-ons and accessories.
Read More: Aids to Make Accessible Travel Easier