: Dr Himanshu Tyagi
“I have put on some weight during this lockdown” – this is probably one of the most commonly heard statements of 2020. And the very next declaration would be “My knees have started hurting lately”.
As per one study, almost one-third of the population has put on weight during the last 4 months. This fact seems to be more exemplified in our urban upper-class population,where the incidence is as high as 70%. This weight gain has led to an exponential upsurge in the cases of knee pain, back pain, arthritis and bone pains.
The ‘Big 5’ reasons for this sudden increase in the Orthopaedic problems post lockdown are –
1) Weight gain.
2) Sedentary lifestyle.
3) Lack of exercise
4) Poor posture
5) Vitamin D deficiency due to less sunlight exposure.
“The most common complaint is knee pain, followed by back pain and closely contested by neck pain at the 3rd spot.”
Other contributing factors behind these pains are –
1) ‘Work from home’ culture – long sittings in front of laptop or computer especially in poor posture has contributed immensely to these pains.
2) Excessive household work during the lockdown, due to unavailability of maids/domestic help.
3) Poor dietary habits during the lockdown. Deficiency of nutrients like protein, zinc, omega fatty acids & lipoic acids can lead to early fatigability and muscle pains.
4) Inadequate sleep or poor sleep routine: Affects the metabolism negatively and can lead to reducing muscle endurance and fibromyalgia.
Medically speaking, in the last four months, we have seen a lot of new patients coming to the OPD with complaints of –
1) Osteoarthritis – More common in females above the age group of 55 years.
2) Bone pains – Young females with concomitant vitamin D deficiency.
3) Slip disc /Sciatica/Back pain: middle-age professionals working on the laptops for long hours (work from home).
4) Neck pain/Shoulder/Upper back pain: due to poor posture while reading books, watching TV, working on phone or sleeping.
COVID -19 pandemic forced us into lockdown and social isolation, which in addition to orthopaedic pains also gave rise to various mental problems like demotivation, loneliness and depression which ultimately affects the body’s healing power against osteoarthritis and bone pains.
“The lockdown was particularly brutal on our female working professionals, as they had to manage both the fronts almost single-handedly.”
Even today, Due to Corona scare, people are afraid to go out for a walk or to exercise in the open, which only adds to weight gain and muscle weakness. The situation is only made worse by government prohibition on the functioning of gyms, swimming pools and fitness centres.
The way out –
1) Following a minimum 30-minute daily schedule for exercise, relaxation or yoga of any form.
2) Focus on strength training and weight-bearing exercises in addition to stretching and flexibility exercises.
3) Enrol for an online Fitness training session or yoga class or Zumba class.
4) Follow a strict sleeping routine. Hit the bed on time and get out of the bed every morning before 7 AM. Proper sleep allows healing of sore muscles and inflamed joints.
5) Diet – avoid food items which are rich in carbohydrates, oil, sweets or saturated fats.
6)Avoid aerated drinks or high energy drinks like Cola or workout drinks.
7) Avoid self-administration of painkillers as it may lead to gastritis, internal bleeding, kidney and liver issues in the long run. (Consult your doctor)
8) If you are not comfortable visiting a hospital go for a telemedicine consultation through video call or online consultation with the Orthopaedic expert.
9) Give due emphasis on maintaining proper posture while working on a laptop/ computer during work from home.
10) Since this corona crisis is nowhere near its end, buying a treadmill or home exercising cycle is not at all a bad option.
11) Taking a dietitian consultation for healthy and supervised nutritional assistance is also a good option.
2020 may have proved a challenging year in many ways (economic, business, professional) but taking care of your health is of paramount importance.
“Just take care of your health, everything else would fall in place…..eventually.”
About the Author –
Dr Himanshu Tyagi is a senior consultant Orthopaedic surgeon practicing in Delhi.