Woman vacuuming her room, hurting her spine

Household Tasks That Hurt Your Spine, Your Joints and Your Muscles

At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we have long been aware that household chores, whether performed indoors or outdoors, can result in painful musculoskeletal problems. During the recent months of quarantine, for many people such aches and pains have become more frequent and more intense, largely because, confined to home, they have been spending more time cleaning, cooking, taking care of their children, gardening, reorganizing, and involving themselves in projects like cleaning the attic or painting the bedroom. 

During an average year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are hundreds of thousands of housework-related injuries in this country; our guess is that in 2020 this number will be higher than usual. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury during the coronavirus pandemic, or has inadvertently worsened an existing condition, our offices, spaced conveniently throughout Nassau, Suffolk, and Queens, are excellent places to find relief. 

The doctors on our staff are physiatrists which means that they are specialists in pain management and rehabilitation. Our focus is always on restoring your ability to function with greater strength, flexibility, and comfort. We have now reopened all of our offices for in-person visits, but if your immunity is compromised and you feel safer not being in public yet, we are happy to accommodate you with a telemedicine appointment.

Types of Injuries that Result from Household Tasks

Unfortunately, almost any kind of injury you can incur outside your home can be experienced in your home or backyard as well. Patients who stay close to home, whether due to COVID-19, because they are a stay-at-home caregivers, they work from home, they are retired, or for some other reason, frequently come to Long Island Spine with injuries like:

  • Strains or sprains of various muscles
  • Stress fractures of the spine 
  • Fractures of bones in the limbs or digits
  • Joint pain in the shoulders, knees of hips
  • Spinal conditions like disc herniation, pinched nerves, sciatica
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Dislocations of the ball and socket joints (hips or shoulders)
  • Knotted muscles (myofascial trigger points)
  • Bursitis or tendonitis

Numerous patients come to us with undiagnosed sharp pain, aching, numbness, weakness, or limited range of motion, not knowing what is causing the problem. We pride ourselves on our ability to find out precisely what the problem is.

Accurate Diagnosis Is Key 

Before we can treat you appropriately, we must make a correct diagnosis. This is one of our areas of expertise. We have hands trained to find trouble spots and cutting-edge diagnostic equipment, including:

  • X-rays, CT and MRI scans
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Nerve conduction studies
  • Diagnostic ultrasound
  • Fluoroscopically guided injections to pinpoint your pain’s origin

Once we have figured out precisely what the medical reason is for your pain, we will present you with treatment options that will not only alleviate your pain, but help you heal. At Long Island Spine, we use only noninvasive treatments with proven track records of success.

With luck, we will also be good detectives, assisting you in discovering which household task is causing you pain and then working on a plan to modify the way you undertake that particular task so that you can avoid strain and injury.

Household Tasks that May Be More Dangerous than They Seem

Dusting and vacuuming, doing the wash, and diapering the baby may be routine, but that does not mean they can’t cause problems with your back, neck, or other body parts. Following are some housekeeping tasks that may interfere with your comfort:

  • Lifting heavy laundry or furniture 
  • Bending over while vacuuming, ironing, picking up toys or pillows
  • Kneeling to scrub the floor or bathtub
  • Turning heavy mattresses
  • Lifting elderly or infirm loved ones for feeding or bathing
  • Reaching awkwardly for high up pots, small stored appliances or dishes
  • Reaching to clean high shelves, hang curtains or paintings, or change lightbulbs

Ironically, many people try to avoid overreaching by standing on stools or stepladders and end up falling, which can be even more dangerous, resulting in fractures or dislocations. Outdoor chores are sometimes even more taxing than indoor household chores. Many of our patients injure themselves while stooping and bending as they garden (sometimes while carrying heavy bags of soil or mulch), while they shovel heavy snow, or when they climb and reach to clean gutters.

While older patients tend to have worse balance and thinner bones that put them at risk for musculoskeletal injuries, younger patients with infants and toddlers often stress their bodies by performing household tasks while holding their children. Too many people of all ages hurt themselves by picking up children awkwardly, or by remaining in uncomfortable positions in order to avoid waking the adored baby in their arms.

Treatments We Use To Help You Heal

Once we have discovered the underlying cause of your symptoms, we will treat you with one or more of our conservative, though innovative, methods. We will avoid sending you for surgery unless absolutely necessary, and will typically treat you with:

  • Physical therapy specifically designed to address your musculoskeletal issues
  • Acupuncture to control pain and inflammation and to promote healing
  • Ultrasound-guided injections of corticosteroid and analgesics
  • Gel injections to lubricate a painful knee joint with hyaluronic acid
  • PRP – platelet rich plasma therapy or PEMF – pulsed electromagnetic field therapy,

each of which promote and accelerate healing

In addition, we will teach you how to prevent housework injuries in the future by using good posture, working on surfaces at the proper height, keeping needed implements or supplies within easy reach, wearing proper footwear, and not staying in one position for too long.

Pain Management and Rehabilitation Are Not Do-It-Yourself Projects

If household tasks have caused you pain, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention at Long Island Spine. Continuing to struggle through constant or intermittent pain can cause your injury to worsen. Delaying appropriate treatment may even result in the need for surgical intervention with its associated risks and extended recovery period.