5 Tips for Managing Arthritis on the Road

Managing arthritis
Image source: health.clevelandclinic.org

Arthritis is the inflammation of joints, such as knuckles, hips, knees, and any other jointed areas of the body. And, according to the Arthritis Foundation, approximately 31 million Americans have osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of the condition. Symptoms of arthritis can include joint pain, redness, and swelling, as well as joint stiffness, and oftentimes these symptoms peak in the mornings, making it difficult to move about.

If you suffer from arthritis and are an RV enthusiast, you probably understand the challenges that can come up during travel. Driving for long periods of time, setting up and breaking down camp, and other tasks that were once easy can become difficult and cause discomfort.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help reduce symptoms while you’re on the road. For example:

  • Map out your route to include pit stops – It’s essential for those with arthritis to stand up and stretch about every two hours during a road trip. Make sure your route includes stopping at rest stops, gas stations, parks, or other spots and taking 10 to 15 minutes to get your joints moving.
  • Include exercise in your daily routine – To combat the symptoms of arthritis, it’s important to help your joints maintain range of motion. So, in addition to planning pit stops while driving, you should also schedule in at least 30 minutes of low-impact aerobic exercise each day to keep joints lubricated and moving. Some exercise options include walking, dancing, biking, and swimming.
  • Monitor medication – If you’re the driver, but take medications for your arthritis, make sure the medication doesn’t make you sleepy. In most cases, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, can be taken in moderation (according to dosage instructions) to reduce inflammation and swelling and not cause drowsiness.
  • Limit stress – RV travel in general can often be unpredictable and hectic, which can elevate stress levels. However, if you have arthritis, stress can exacerbate symptoms and make your day that much more uncomfortable. When traveling, it’s best to limit stress as much as possible, so create schedules and routines and stick to them. Also, take time each day for yourself to breathe, stretch, meditate, or do whatever helps calm your nerves.
  • Get restful sleep – You might think that you can get away with sleeping a few hours here and there and be just fine to get through the day, or that you don’t have to sleep a full eight hours to feel rested. That may be true to a point, but there is no denying that sleep is an important part of treatment for any condition. For arthritis suffers, lack of sleep is often caused by pain, but not sleeping regularly can actually increase pain the next day and may even lead to depression and disability, according to the Arthritis Foundation. To improve your sleep patterns, practice good “sleep hygiene” by avoiding caffeine during the day, turning off electronic devices before bedtime, and sticking to a specific bedtime schedule.

While these tips can help you manage your arthritis in general while traveling in your rig, you should always check with your doctor if you’re concerned about your symptoms and how to relieve them during travel.

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