If you have arthritis or back pain, carrying out daily activities can turn out to be an agonizing affair. In fact, suffering from arthritis or pain in the back could be debilitating in more ways than one.
For instance, driving a vehicle is one activity that you can no longer indulge in as freely as you would want to. An important activity for most people, driving not just helps to get from place to place but also offers a sense of independence and freedom. So, it can be quite a traumatic revelation for someone with arthritis or back pain to learn that they cannot drive.
Coming from the Greek word that means “disease of the joints,” arthritis
is essentially an inflammation of the joints that causes pain and stiffness. It is of several types depending on the causal factors. Osteoarthritis is known to deteriorate the quality of life and also leads to depression in some people.
Cause of Arthritis
Some of the common causes of arthritis are:
- Daily wear and tear of joints, especially if you lift heavy weights
- History of joint injury or trauma
- Excess deposition of uric acid or calcium in joints
- Autoimmune reactions
If you have arthritis or joint pain, then actions such as pressing pedals, getting in and out of the car, shifting gears, and maneuvering the steering wheel can be challenges. In fact, it could be potentially dangerous.
The Good News
While arthritis or backache can threaten to take away the freedom that driving offers, there are certain tips and tricks that minimize the pain and make driving a smooth ride:
Use a firm and raised seat cushion
Keep one in the car that's firm and helps you raise yourself from the seat. This way you can avoid over straining your back and also see past the windshield of the vehicle without flexing your muscles. Additionally, it will help you see the position of your vehicle relative to other objects.
Soothe your sore hands
It is a good idea to wear gloves that provide a good grip on the steering wheel without using too much strength. A padded steering wheel also provides a steady and comfortable grip. Adding a spinner knob to your steering wheel makes turning easier with less pressure on the hands and wrists.
Wear comfortable footwear
Avoid wearing heels and thick soled shoes. They tire your feet and make it hard to operate the pedals. Low-heeled and flexible footwear help you control the pedals. Also, move your seat forward so that you push the pedals with your whole foot, rather than only the toes.
Adjust your mirrors beforehand
To avoid getting neck pain, adjust your mirrors in a way so you have a wide field of vision. This will prevent you from moving your head around too much. Make sure that you can see the traffic both behind and next to you using all three mirrors. Also, you can make modifications to the rear-view and side mirrors so that you can see the road without turning around. For instance, you can attach a panoramic rear-view mirror to a rear-view mirror to give yourself a broader view of the road.
Be cautious with your arthritis/pain relieving medicines
Avoid taking medications that make you feel sleepy if you need to drive. In fact, your regular prescription pain drugs may not be advisable while driving. Instead, try taking over-the-counter-pain relievers. Additionally, consult an arthritis specialist before making any changes in your medicine regime. If you have a long trip ahead, try taking your medicines just before starting the trip to reduce the pain and stiffness while driving.
There are a few other precautions you can take to avoid discomfort while driving. Try to stop during the course of the drive and stretch your limbs. Do some prescribed stretching exercises to ease the pain and stiffness in your joints. If you are traveling with somebody who can drive, take turns at the wheel so you can get a break in between. You can also keep a heating pad or ice pack in your car to apply to the affected area and relieve the pain when your joints start to hurt.
By keeping a few precautions in mind and combined along with proper planning, you can ensure a safe and comfortable drive despite your arthritis or back pain.