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Going on Vacation... Any Tips?

PygmyChickenPPygmyChicken Posts: 1
Hi there! I'm new to these forums, and to having back pain. I'm a nineteen year old female, and the past month my back pain had gotten so severe (and started radiating down the front of my thigh) that I went to the doctor. I was extremely fortunate to have a sympathetic doctor who had me do a few physical tests. Fortunately, she used to work with neurosurgeons so has a lot of experience with this sort of thing.

After doing a few things, she said that I had an L4-L5 disc herniation that was compressing the nerve root and based this off of me having no ankle reflex and that I couldn't keep my right foot pointed up when I walked on my heels. She was very concerned and prescribed me a 5-day course of methylprednisolone and some painkillers (which I am thankful for because I was in a LOT of pain). She said that I may have to look into surgery because nerve root compression can be dangerous. While this isn't as definitive as an MRI, I don't have the time to get an MRI for awhile because...

Just a few days prior to seeing the doctor, I booked a trip to go to the Netherlands for three months to see my fiance and the tickets are non-refundable. I can get myself emergency health insurance in case I "need" a back surgery, but I was hoping maybe some of you guys would have some tips on how to keep my back healthy while I am abroad so that I can enjoy my trip as much as possible. (Things like walking, or biking maybe? Not sure how healthy cycling is for your back)

Also, it's likely that I will run out of painkillers when I'm there but can get codeine prescribed by my fiance's doctor... is this as effective for treating back pain as hydrocodone? Hydrocodone is not allowed to be prescribed in the Netherlands, so I cannot get that.

Any tips are welcome!


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Welcome to Spine-Health

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    If there are any questions, you can always post them here, send Liz or myself a private message or contact Ron rdilauro@veritashealth.com


    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • triciainmexicottriciainmexico Posts: 10
    edited 02/08/2015 - 3:22 PM
    Hi! The Netherlands sounds great, I love travel too and wouldnt be able to give up non refundable tickets if at all possible either ;)

    When I have had to be in planes during flare ups of nerve pain, I try and take along those back patches- electronic heating pads are hard to take on a plane. I have read most floght attendants will heat up a rice heat pack for you in the microwave - just be sure whatever heating/ice device you take will make it through security. Try and get up and stretch during thr lfight , and dont be afraid to ask for ice.

    Besides that though, Im afraid Im not much help. At least your destination should have pretty decent and available healthcare options, emergency health insurance sounds like a GREAT idea.

    Good luck! Enjoy your trip, am hoping you can make it through seeing your fiance without any emergency situations.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,852
    but in the Netherlands, I would not worry about any pain control. They are very easy when it comes to dolling out anything that can mask the pain! They may not go for hydrocodone, but they easily make other drugs available. Things that you need prescriptions for in the states. They have some very potent IBProfen that can help with the pain. I am only saying this, because I have first hand knowledge of people living in the Netherlands.

    • - One of the things you need to make sure of since its a long flight, is to make sure you get up and walk around as much as you can.
      Your back can easily spasm if you dont, plus anytime you take flights that long, the risk for clotting of the legs.. So again, walking around is your best way to
      avoid that.

      - As far as the spinal problems, well, the two I mentioned above covers it. Walking around and not staying in your seat too long.
      Having a comfortable seat in the plane will help. If you can stretch out, that is a plus. One of my trips to Italy, we had an relatively empty plane, so that I could
      stretch out, almost like lying on a couch.

      - I would also bring some ice packs. If you cant have them while boarding, not sure of all the TSA regulations, I would let the stewardess be aware that you will
      need ice during your flight.

      - Which brings me to another point. I would contact the airlines you are going on.. Let them know about your spinal condition and work out some details Perhaps
      there may be things they could help you with. Even if it meant bringing things on board that would help you but might be TSA no'nos

      - I know you are not allowed to bring water on the plane, but you need to drink plenty of liquid during your entire flight. Here is where a phone call to the airlines
      prior to your trip may help

      - Wear comfortable clothes. Like sweats or anything. Forget the fashion.. That you can save when you meet up with your finance.
      But while traveling, its comfort at the top of your list
    Now once you are there...

    • - Comfort - Stay with the comfort clothes as best as you can. I am sure that since you are visiting your finance, you want to make things special for the both of
      you. But its better to be comfortable and not over do things vs laying up in bed and not being able to enjoy your time. Dont push yourself. Take things easy.
      Walking is fine, but not overdone. I guess what I am saying is everything in moderation.

      - Sleeping - You dont want a rock hard mattress, nor a soft pushy one. Something in between

      - Rest: Try to get a few hours of rest every day. Have fun for a number of hours, tour, etc... but then take a break before going on

      - Exercise: Try stretching and other exercises that your doctor approved prior to your trip

      - Contacts: Not sure how this can work, but you need to be able to contact your doctor in case of problems. If that is impossible, perhaps your current doctor can
      identify some contacts in the Netherlands. All doctors have access to resources, and that includes overseas

    The bottom line. This sounds like an exciting trip for you. Overseas and of course to visit your finance. So it is so very important that you do what is necessary to ensure the time overseas will be without incident. Sure, you may have some rough times. When you have a L4/L5 (or any disc) that is impinging on a nerve root, that is painful

    When is your trip? If you have any questions please feel free to post them here, or you can always email me at rdilauro@veritashealth.com
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • In 2010 I was travelling with Lufthansa Airbus A 340-300 from Frankfurt to Toronto, and then back from Vancouver to Frankfurt. The plane had so beautiful seats that I felt no pain all the time of the flight. Of course, that was 5 years ago when I was not in so bad condition as I am now. However, seats are great, but I suppose it depends from airline to airline.

    Scoliosis vertebrae THL
    Sy CC et CB
    Sy THS
    Sy LS chr
  • BotzBotz Central FloridaPosts: 223
    Is it possible to schedule and Epidural spinal injection prior to the trip? I have had success with the injections. When I traveled to Europe several years ago I had an injection 2 week prior to leaving. The relief I got lasted about 3 months. that might be enough for your travels.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,852
    are something that really can not be scheduled by the patient. That has to be something that the doctor feels is justifiable. The fact that a person is leaving the country by itself would be difficult for any insurance company to approve.

    Now, if the doctor can document all the necessary rationale and justifications for giving an ESI, then that could be an option.

    I have had so many ESI's over the years, some successful, some not, but none of them caused additional pain. But reading some of the stories here about ESI's, I would be hesitate to risk something. Last thing you want to do is potentially ruin your trip.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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