The Importance of Spring Cleaning for Chronic Pain Patients

The warmer months are finally upon us, and that means that it is time to clean up. For most of us, spring cleaning is essential, not only for a healthier living environment but also for a happier state of mind.  Unfortunately, if you are one of the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic pain, spring cleaning is an excruciating ordeal that brings pain and the risk of additional injury.

The good news is that you can make spring cleaning a much less arduous task if you take the right steps.  The right preparation can ensure that you put minimal strain on your already overtaxed body and reduce the risk of hurting yourself in the process.

Setting Reasonable Goals

Of course, you want to complete all of the chores on your “To do” list so that you can be proud of your home and be satisfied that everything is as it should be, but don’t let your goals overwhelm your common sense. If you have a health condition like chronic pain, you definitely want to take things step by step.

First of all, you should set reasonable goals. For example, you may want to only clean one room a day, and for more challenging rooms like kitchens or garages, spread them out over several days. You may also want to put a day of rest between work days so that you don’t put too much strain on your body. This may extend your spring cleaning schedule, but you will be putting your body at less risk.

Second of all, organize your tasks and plan ahead. If you need to clean the gutters, then have all the equipment like work gloves, brushes and ladders in peak condition so that you can complete this task with minimal stress and delay.

Finally, be flexible. You may be eager to see your home in excellent shape, but don’t sacrifice your health to accomplish it. If you find your pain condition flaring up, then take some time off from your cleaning schedule. Likewise, if you find that a particular cleaning task is causing undue strain, hold off on it or try accomplishing it in a different way.

Be Sensible

There are a lot of reasons why you should take it easy when you do your spring cleaning. You probably haven’t been doing a lot of housework during the colder months, so ease your body into the work. You may overestimate your capacity for work; the warmth of the spring may feel good, but that shouldn’t feel like permission to push yourself too hard.

While you are doing your cleaning tasks, here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Use best practices—if you are lifting anything, use your knees, not your back. If there are many items, make several trips rather than one overburdened circuit. If you have one available, wear a lifting harness to reduce strain on your back.
  • Get your doctor’s permission—not everyone is capable of taking on the arduous tasks involved in spring cleaning. If you have a health condition that may interfere with housework or may worsen, it is in your best interest to ask your doctor first.  This may require an in-office visit, but you may get some insightful recommendations that could save you a lot of pain down the road.
  • Get ready—before you engage in any hard work, you should prepare your body first. Get a good night’s rest and eat a hearty meal to make sure you are in tip-top shape. Perform some light exercises and stretches to warm up your body first. Drink plenty of fluids before and during your work.
  • Slow and steady—take care to finish your work at a modest pace.  You shouldn’t be in a hurry or you could injure yourself. Also, it is much better to get a chore done right the first time rather than have to redo it due to a sloppy, hurried first attempt.
  • Avoid high places—high places are a fall risk, so avoid them if at all possible. Use cleaning tools with extended handles to reach high places. If you must get up on a ladder or chair, always have someone holding you steady. If you need to reach a distant spot, don’t stretch but move the ladder or chair to a closer position.
  • Don’t contort your body—cleaning can often make you assume unpleasant positions that put too much strain on your back or joints which can aggravate many chronic pain conditions. You can often avoid this by using equipment like long-handled mops or vacuum attachments.
  • Be safe—it goes without saying that you should make every effort to minimize the risk of injury. Remove unnecessary clutter from work areas and high-traffic spaces. Illuminate unlit areas. Keep floors clean and dry throughout the time you are working.
  • Listen to your body—ultimately, your body should be your guide for pacing your work schedule. If the aches and pain become too much, then take a break to hydrate and relax. It may help to take an OTC pain reliever like Tylenol or Advil (make sure your physician approves first), and applying hot or ice packs can reduce discomfort and speed up recovery.

Don’t Work Alone

In 2018, almost 125,000 people died due to accidents in the home, and 37 million suffered injuries.  If you want to avoid becoming another statistic, then you should make every effort to lower the risk of serious injury.

One of the most important ways to minimize these risks is to always work alongside someone else. If you have a family member or friend who can assist you, this will alleviate some of the strain on your body as well as make the time go faster. It is also important that there is someone nearby who can help you if you get injured.

Finally, if you are incapable of handling all of the tasks on your own, don’t be afraid to hire help. It may cost you a few dollars, but it may save you a great deal of pain.

Article written by: Dr. Robert Moghim – CEO/Founder Colorado Pain Care

M.D. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal views of Robert Moghim, M.D. and do not necessarily represent and are not intended to represent the views of the company or its employees.  The information contained in this article does not constitute medical advice, nor does reading or accessing this information create a patient-provider relationship.  Comments that you post will be shared with all visitors to this page. The comment feature is not governed by HIPAA and you should not post any of your private health information.