Tackling PsA while driving

This question came to mind when I was driving my parents to dinner tonight and I couldn’t get comfortable while I was driving for quite some time. I got over it because they were testing me. Well anyway I wanted to know how everyone else tackles their pain while driving because we all know we have to go somewhere eventually. I will also be driving on my own soon and I won’t be able to rely on others to just drive and I don’t want to just have to deal with the pain while driving.

So first off, when the medications start working, you will find that your pain level should diminish, and everything should be easier. How you handle driving and pain issues will depend on what specifically is bothering you. For some people with more extreme spinal problems, driving can become impossible, because sitting upright can be too much. But that's not where you are.

You may have to go slow on driving, at least for now, until you start to see some improvement. I try to minimize my driving if I'm having a really bad flare, especially if it is affecting my shoulders, neck, hands, etc. For long trips? My husband does the bulk of the driving.

You may also notice that some times of the day are easier for you to handle pain than others.

Listen to Stoney she is wise.

I use my heated seats and pull the seat up really close to the steering wheel as I have pretty serious spine issues. But when my biologic and mtx are working Tylenol and Aleve take care of my pain. I also have a padded steering wheel cover. But Stoney is right once your meds are working better it may take care of most of your pain if not visit an automotive section and see what might help you with where it is you still hurt.

There were plenty of times at the start, before i got the med mix right, that driving just a short sistance was impossible. then things stared to slowly get better, and timing was the big thing - trying to make a 1 1/2 hour commute on the freeway at the end of a long day at work when I was exhausted and pain levels were their highest for the day; bad idea. I was lucky to go home with my husband who drove some days, on others I chose to catch a train and taxi or lift - longer and less convenient, but I’m far less likely to kill myself ( and possibly someone else) in a car accident!

Other than that, my practical tips include; automatics are not that helpful. It’s honestly hard to tell if its harder to keep pushing that clutch foot in and out, or keep your leg almost perfectly still for nearly 2 hours.

My problems with drving have got worse over the two years since I was diagnosed mainly because my meds have never really got my PsA under proper control. Although I've had foot/leg/back problems which during flares made using a clutch difficult my biggest and most consistent problem has been my shoulders which have affected changing gear and holding and turning the steering wheel. As a result there have been times when I simply have not been able to drive safely so have had to stay home or get a taxi/friend/husband to drive me.

I've slowly and reluctantly accepted that I had to change the car I loved for something smaller, lighter on the steering and automatic. Only got the new one a week ago so we're still getting to know eachother BUT I have done a couple of hour long drives in it this week and I wouldn't have even considered trying in the old car so that must say something.

Cars and driving used to be 'my thing' but now it is only a means to an end of getting from A to B. Maybe that will change again if the next meds work (start Simponi later this month).

So I'd say, Fighter, drive a car with good power steering, automatic if necessary, take pain relief before a long journey, stop regularly to stretch and if you think you're too bad to drive safely don't drive at all.

I tend to take extra care when I'm driving. Esp if I'm having a day where there is more swelling or stiffness than usual. Considering it's my hands that can be the most painful, it's good to be mindful of such things. I think sometimes due to the pain or stiffness, we may not move in a manner that is typical which will change how we do things of course.

Take your time. As Stoney mentioned, you will know when the meds kick in since your pain and discomfort will diminish.

I find the following things help me while driving:

*Automatic transmission

*heated seats integral to the car, or you can get a pad for the seat that is heated and plugs into the cigarette lighter thingy)

*the kind of adjustable seats where the seat moves electronically (ultra adjustable) vs. just locking into a handful of preset angles and heights.

*a steering wheel cover that enlarges the wheel

*I sometimes wear driving gloves, which happen to be some sort of bicycling gloves that have good grip.

*if my 'driving knee' is hurting, I wear a neoprene knee brace to support the knee and add heat to the area

*I just got a car with a backup camera and it helps me SO MUCH from turning my neck all the time

*I just find small cars easier (our new Prius is easier than the Subaru wagon)

I spend something over 50 hours a week driving, either to, from, or for work. About 300 miles a day. It's hard because I hurt so badly, but drive a bus for a living, and don't plan on stopping until I can't take it anymore. I've been wearing splints on my wrists because they keep dislocating, my shoulders are slipping too which makes it hard to open the doors, put on seatbelts, etc. Even on enbrel and taking nsaids it's still rough.

To help with the grinding, slipping, and pain I use the splints on both wrists with moderate support so that there isn't as much strain on the joints while turning the wheel, shifting, opening doors, securing things.

If possible let your car warm up a bit before you drive it, a remote starter can be a Godsend.

Make sure the heater is in good working order, the bus I drive has a horrible heater in it that barely works, this leads to a lot of sadness on really cold days. Or damp days. Or most days *sigh*

Have a lap blanket and gloves available in case you need them to help keep your legs, knees, hands warm.

Keep some spare painkillers with you, sounds like a no-brainer but I am a scatterbrain and forget them.

For me an SUV or smaller pickup truck is much easier to get into than a car. I loved my Ford Ranger to get in and out of, my F-150 is harder but the panic handles and running boards make that easier to get into.

I know it's already been said but it's so important, if you feel you're stiffening up don't be afraid to stop and flex, walk around, or do something to loosen up a bit. It might feel like you're wasting time, especially on a long trip, but it's better to stop than to hobble like a crab once you get where you're going. When I have to drive without stopping for more than a couple hours it can be nearly impossible to get out of the drivers seat without looking like a fish flopping on land :[

Be aware of side effects of any medication you're on, some can effect the way you drive.

If you have problems with your shoulders you can get pads that slip on the shoulder harness to the seatbelt to help cushion it and reduce hard pressure.

Have one or two of those little foam gardening pads in your trunk in case you need to get out and kneel to change a tire, check something, or otherwise get on the ground. I realize a lot of people can't kneel but if you can the foam pad can make things a lot easier.

Excellent topic! Lots of great suggestions. The obvious answer is always to treat the PsA as best you can and the meds should offer relief. But for some of us, the meds fall short.

I was just looking into a backup camera for my truck due to neck issues.

Cruise control is a must for me. Obviously not in stop and go traffic. But any where it is safe to use.

Heated seats are a godsend. I live in southern california but use these frequently due to chronic sacroiliitis.

I added a wool fleece seat cover to the driver seat to add some cushioning.

I keep instant ice packs in the console for bad days, as well as, extra medication.

I have towels on board to use as makeshift cushions or to stop the ice packs from sweating all over the seats.

I make frequent stops to stretch and rest.

My seats are electric and can almost fully recline.I make adjustment to the seat and steering wheel position as needed.

I have 'nap supplies' on board. Blanket & neck travel pillow.

I also have window shades for the front and side windows so if I need to nap I can do so discretely.

When I have to ice my back, I park somewhere put the seat all the way down and watch a video podcast on my phone or just listen to some soothing music to help me de-stress.

I had to stop driving my Jeep because it has a manual transmission. But I am looking into assistive devices. Apparently there is a conversion that installs a new stick shift with a hand operated clutch. I have issues with my hands too, but was thinking if I could alternate it may be workable. I cannot afford to convert it to automatic. And I am reluctant to get rid of it.

And of course, I rest up before a long drive.

Safe travels!