Lockdown leading to Joint pains in women due to excessive household work.

Doctor I have a severe pain in my back and right shoulder since last 25 days, please advise me some strong painkiller as I cannot afford to take rest at this point” said Mrs Sangeeta, 46 year old working women having 2  kids and a husband.

This is not just the story of Mrs Sangeeta but many other women who are presently trying to strike a balance between their professional life, household work, kids and spouse.

Women- The multitasker

As per Mrs Sushila Mehta 39 year old executive working in a IT company “I am working almost 8 to 9 hours daily for my office work (work from home) , in between  I am doing cooking for my family, arranging online classes for my kids plus cleaning my home. Though my husband is trying to extend a helping hand to me but he is also too busy  with his office work at times”

Due to lockdown, maids are presently unavailable to help the ladies with household domestic work. This is particularly making the situation worst for working women who are now working extra hard to balance their office work, family life plus the household work.

Three categories of women worst affected are –

1) Women working professionally (work from home) and also managing the family during lockdown.

2) Women with small kids, parents/in-laws and husband at home.

3) women above 45 years of age with pre-existing health issues like arthritis or diabetes, living with unmarried kids, husband and old parents.

It is now 56 days since the lockdown was announced by the government of India. Though this lockdown was essential in the interest of public health but now many women are approaching doctors with complains of knee pain, shoulder pain, back pain and vague muscular pains due to excessive work.

Lockdown 4.0

Cleaning the house requires activities like brooming, mopping, dusting on regular basis with other activities like washing & ironing the clothes done frequently. This list is a never ending one, as it also involves daily activities like cooking, washing utensils and getting vegetables and essential items from outside. Before lockdown maids were available to the house ladies for help in most of above mentioned activities.

In the present scenario, even though husbands are trying their very best to help out their wives, but still a lot of physical labour falls onto the shoulders of  ‘The lady of house’ especially when it comes to cooking and cleaning.  Thus, our ladies are finding it difficult to stay at their best with all this pressure and physical exertion.

We are together in this……

Activities like brooming, washing the clothes and mopping puts a lot of pressure on the knees, lower back, shoulder, elbow and forearm region. Due to repeated strains the muscles of the lower back and shoulder starts getting fatigued. Over a period of time if the activities are continued, it results into actual muscle injuries or pain syndromes.

This situation is particularly severe for ladies with kids less than 10 years of age and husband also working from home, as young kids require more help and attention from mother. Also since the schools are closed and children are already going through a mental turmoil, they require greater attention and support at this moment and they look towards their mother for extra help.

Mom…..I need help

These pains and aches are temporary to start with and get relieved by rest initially. However as more and more days are passing in the lockdown, these aches specially  related to lower back and shoulder are taking a more permanent shape, not getting relieved by rest and requiring frank orthopaedic opinion for their management.

Majority of time the orthopedician prescribes them analgesics and anti-inflammatory with advice of rest for few days. However rest is not an option here for these hardworking females as invariably they choose their family and home above their own health.

Multiple Aches

It is seen that almost 20% of the females coming to orthopedician complain of shoulder, elbow and wrist pain, 60% of the females  complain of only back pain and  around 30% complain of both back and knee pain.

The way out  –

1) Prioritise your activities. Give importance to what is urgent & important over desirable and non urgent.

2) Don’t go for perfection in every activity, stop when adequate level of standard is reached.

3) Don’t bend down from your back but fold your knees and sit down whenever trying to clean the floor.

4) Use vacuum cleaner with long attachments for dusting the house twice a week instead of cloth for daily dusting (which requires repeated shoulder movements).

5) Always use floor mops with long handles so that you don’t have to  bend over to clean. (Save your back)

Use floor mops with long handles

6) Avoid wearing white or light colour clothes which require a separate cleaning through wringing movement of arm (leads to elbow and wrist pain). Wear clothes which can be washed in a washing machine without manual effort.

7) Clean utensils in small loads rather than washing all utensils at the end of day. (Saves your hand muscles from getting fatigued)

8) Take help of all family members based on their age, capacity and convenience.

9)Instead of going for traditional brooming, go for broom with long handles so that it can be done in standing position.

10) Don’t go for extensive dusting of curtains or carpet, leave them for the post lockdown period when the help is available.

11) If you are getting back pain, knee pain or shoulder pain avoid stranous activities for more than 30 minutes in one stretch.

12) Take care of your sore muscles by doing hot fomentation and simple muscle stretching exercises after your work.

Regular stretching exercises are important

13) Try to get minimum 8 hours of sleep as adequate sleep is important for proper healing and regeneration of muscles.

Get minimum 8 hours of sleep

14) If you are a working woman and have to sit for long hours for computer work, best would be to take a break every 30 or 45 minutes do some stretching exercises and change your posture.

Take a break from laptop work every 30-45 minutes

15) It is always advisable to get into the practice of 15 minutes exercise program, which includes exercises for lower back, knees and neck muscles.

16) Ironing of cloths should be done on iron board or dining table of adequate height  only, so that the person need not to bend forward while ironing the clothes. Also  it is desirable that clothes requiring minimal or no ironing should be worn to save the effort.

Height of the iron board should be sufficient

It is important for all of us to take care of each other during this challenging period. It is imperative that we act before these pains transform into something more prominent. By adopting to few simple modifications in our daily life we can improve our health in big way. Let us stand together during this lockdown to take care of our  ladies.

Published by A Contemplating Doctor

An Orthopaedic surgeon with keen interest in public health and Indian healthcare policies.

6 thoughts on “Lockdown leading to Joint pains in women due to excessive household work.

  1. Suggestions given are very exhaustive and very very important for the women to follow to avoid their all problems discussed in this issue. Everybody should take these issues very seriously. My wife at least has taken it seriously from today itself.

    Like

  2. A very useful informations & suggestions has been provided to handle the House chores in this difficult time.
    We must share the loads of house chores during this Covid19 time and take care of our ladies at home.
    Well written Himanshu.
    Great …!!

    Like

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