Flying with Osteoarthritis

Athena Member Posts: 4
edited 28. Nov 2023, 14:10 in Living with arthritis

Hi! I'm new here. I have osteo in one knee and ankle - same leg. Could I ask how people have coped with long flights re wearing compression socks or compression tights? I have a 17 hour flight coming up and want to know what I should buy. Thank you!



  • chrisb
    chrisb Moderator Posts: 637

    Hi @Athena  

    Welcome to the versus arthritis forum. 

    You have OA in your knee and ankle. With a long flight imminent you would like to hear from any forum members who have experience of flying wearing compressions socks/tights. 

    I’m afraid I couldn’t find any information on our website that might help here or indeed in past forum discussions. However that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any forum members who may be able to advise. 

    Just in case you haven’t visited our website, the following links take you to the OA section: 



    I hope you receive some useful feedback.

    Best Wishes

    ChrisB (Moderator)

    Need more help - call our Helpline on 0800 5200 520 Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm

  • jonr
    jonr Member Posts: 358

    Hello and welcome @Athena,

    I have OA in both knees and when it comes to flying I can pass on these tips, hope they help!

    #1 VERY IMPORTANT! Book extra legroom seats, preferably on an aisle. This will allow you to stretch your legs more easily and help with getting in and out of your seat

    #2 Walk around as much as possible to help prevent stiffness and locks

    #3 Take medication and gels/creams in a carry-on to apply during the flight. I use a deep tissue massaging gun at home first thing in the morning to ease stuffness and soothe tendons. I'd recommend investing in one anyway but if you already use one, take that along for insurance as it's quite portable and can work in seconds, not the half-hour plus you'd need with a TENS machine.

    #4 I wear elasticated knee support and for ankles I can recommend compression socks - not the sort you buy from a chemist but the sort that runners wear because they're far sturdier. You can buy good ones in Mountain Warehouse and Trespass shops on the high street. They are difficult to get on and off but really do the job well

    #5 Try to stretch and tense/untense your leg muscles and rotate your foot as often as possible to keep everything free-flowing

    #6 Enjoy your flight!

  • Athena
    Athena Member Posts: 4

    Many thanks Jon! That’s very helpful 😊

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,608


    Take all meds, with a prescription, in hand luggage as they sometimes want to check at security (and hold luggage can go awol). Some painkillers are not allowed in some countries. Check before you leave.

    Keep drinking water and fruit juice. That, apart from other benefits, will ensure you keep walking - to the loo!

    Ring the airline in advance to sort out if you will be taking your own wheelchair or if you'll need special assistance. Or both.

    Check about socks. I've never worn them. I know some people shouldn't . Those with varicose veins are, I think, one group. But do kep wiggling and walking.

    And enjoy it!

    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • Athena
    Athena Member Posts: 4

    Great advice! I only have mild flare ups occasionally, so a long way from needing a wheelchair fortunately.