The holiday season always shapes up to be the busiest time of the year for air travel and millions more will hit the road.

Jet-setting or road-tripping may be exciting for many folks, but it can be stressful or even painful for the 54 million U.S. adults living with arthritis. No one wants to feel limited; for those with arthritis, planning ahead is especially important. Here is some advice to consider before heading out this holiday season.

Josh Pallen


  • Sitting still for extended periods of time can cause stiffness.
  • Plan road trips with time for rest stops every 1 to 2 hours.
  • If you’re on a plane move around and walk the aisles when it’s safe. When sitting, you can do some heel raises and toe taps to stay limber and this will also help prevent blood clots.
  • Try some stretches while seated or other exercises like isometrics, flexing and holding muscles for 5 to 6 seconds.


  • Keep your medications with you rather than in a checked bag.
  • Take arthritis prescriptions exactly as directed.

Eat wisely

  • Try to choose healthy meals and avoid foods that trigger flare-ups.
  • Carry healthy snacks, drink plenty of water and go easy on alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate inflammation.


  • Balance your activity with adequate rest. Try to strive for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
  • If your arthritis flares up, try to avoid any strenuous activity. Once your pain subsides, gradually increase your activity level and get back to an active lifestyle.

Following these tips will make your trip less stressful, the holiday more enjoyable and help you appreciate your time with family and friends. If arthritis starts to hinder your ability to do the daily activities that you enjoy, physical therapy can offer a variety of interventions to help reduce pain and improve your ability to perform physical activity.

Check the Arthritis Foundation website for more information on traveling with an illness or disability.

Josh Pallen is supervisor of rehabilitation services at Ascension Medical Group, 1901 Westwood Center Blvd, Wausau. For more information, visit