man holding his back in pain from an orthopedic injury

Spring cleaning is an annual reminder to declutter our homes and simplify our material lives.  But leaping headlong into cleaning could have lasting consequences on your back, neck, or joints--especially if you’re not usually this active.


Orthopedic injuries may sound more common to the athlete than the average spring cleaner.  But even in our homes, all that hauling, lifting, reaching, and bending can place us at risk of a truly unforeseen injury.  Nothing can bring a good decluttering session to a halt quite as quickly as persistent pain or limited range of motion.


This spring cleaning season, UAB Medical West encourages you to be mindful of any discomfort or pain you may be feeling, especially in the following areas.


The Elbows

The most common orthopedic injury in this region is better known by the sport associated with it.  Contrary to the popular term, “Tennis Elbow” or sometimes “Golf Elbow” doesn’t require a racket or fairway to achieve.  


Caused by an overload of tendons in the elbow, this painful ailment results from excessive stress on the muscles of the arm, forearm, and wrist. Grabbing and lifting heavy trash bags or taking too much at once to the donation bin can just as easily produce the trademark irritation and inflammation of the elbow.


To avoid tennis elbow, try limiting the stress required to lift or grasp heavy bags.


The Shoulders

An overstuffed closet makes for a nice challenge on any spring cleaning agenda.  The average “catch-all” closet may be stuffed straight up to its ceiling and require some serious reaching.


A tear to the shoulder’s rotator cuff may sound like something limited to baseball or basketball players.  But this common orthopedic injury can result from any activity that requires repetitive motions of the shoulder.  


The reaching, lifting, and pulling of heavier objects from a height can just as easily result in the pain and stiffness associated with rotator cuff tears.  Stretching your shoulders and taking frequent breaks might pay dividends well beyond springtime. 


The Wrists/Ankles

Small in size and therefore smaller in our consideration, these underappreciated joints may be the first to feel the strain of spring cleaning.  Pivoting over a messy floor with a heavy bag in hand can cause injury to one or both.


Ankle and wrist sprains are some of the most common orthopedic injuries out there.  Caused by a stretch or tear to a ligament, wrist and ankle sprains are most easily identified by pain, swelling, and a limited range of motion.


Cluttered floors are a danger zone causing us to overextend, turn sharply in tight spaces, or otherwise risk falling and catching ourselves with our wrists.  Take it slow, clean in manageable bites, and give yourself the best chance of avoiding these common orthopedic injuries.


Happy spring cleaning.


Visit UAB Medical West for treatment and advice

UAB Medical West is here for all your unfortunate spring cleaning mishaps.  If you’re experiencing swelling, pain, discomfort, or a limited range of motion, call 205-996-WEST to schedule an appointment for an evaluation. Serving Hoover, Bessemer, McCalla, and Vance, UAB Medical West treats athletes and decluttering experts alike!