"What Do I Do When Quarantine Gets Painful?"
By: David Stedjan, PT, MPT, OCS
Since being quarantined at home and being off their normal routines, people are noticing more Neck, Back and Knee pain because they are either sitting more or DOING more.
Those who have been sitting more have been complaining about back and neck pain and stiffness, which has caused more tension and tenderness in the shoulders and neck, as well as the low back into the hips and down to the knees.
On the flip side, people who are doing more are noticing NEW aches and pains (or increased pain in old injuries) in their knee muscles and joints—and are wondering if this is something to be concerned about or if it’s “normal”.
For some of you, the aches and pains are quite harmless (and it’s easy to just stretch them out or rest for a day). If you’ve been more active lately or just have more time all of a sudden, these could be “good” pains. It’s not unusual to be sore and have some stiffness with an increase in exercise…
But for others, these symptoms could be a sign of an underlying problem that was already there that you are just now starting to feel. If that’s the case, simple stretching and resting at home that you Googled may not make any difference—or, worse, could make the pain worse and last longer.
How Do You Know Which It Is?
The easiest way to know is to look at how your pain behaves. Is there a pattern? Is it getting more or less intense each day? Does it get worse after activity (or inactivity)? Does it get worse later? Is it worse in the morning? Does it come and go? Does it get better when you stretch…and stay better or come back? Or Does it just keep coming back no matter what you do?
Understanding how your pain behaves is how you will know whether what you are doing is helping or making it worse. It’s not as simple as it hurts or doesn’t hurt. There are so many different grey areas in relation to pain…and that’s why people get confused.
Sometimes the pain will move, and you think it’s improving…or getting worse (this happens all the time with neck and back pain). Sometimes the pain starts in your neck and within a few days moves down into the shoulder blade and into the front of the arm, but feels less intense, which makes people think it’s getting better because “it doesn’t hurt as bad as it did”, BUT actually this is the neck getting worse!
In reality, at times, Google might get it right and you can improve, but then you were just lucky that you read the right article by throwing the right dart at the right board, BUT it still could lead to further problems down the line…that you won’t be able to fix from home.
The BEST Way To Figure Out if Your Pain Is “Normal” or If It Is Something More is to Enlist The Help of An Expert!
As Specialist Therapist, that’s what we do! As a matter of fact, that’s what we have been doing since the Coronavirus Quarantine started. We have been getting on the phone or setting up Zoom Meetings to help people figure out what is going on in their backs, necks or knees (these are the big 3 right now).
We have had the opportunity to give those people some clarity and guidance about what is going on, if it will get better, and what will make it better, so they can have the confidence that this will be OK.
You can Talk in Person, if you’re comfortable leaving your home to come in to our office or start with a phone call and maybe have a virtual visit if you are nervous about leaving your home. Both methods will give you the confidence and clarity to understand what is going on and ho
w to fix it.
Whatever you do, don’t just throw up your arms and think “this is what I’m stuck with until this is over.” There is help out there.
Don’t just throw some ice or heat on it, just stretch it without any change, or try some pills. This could lead to more problems down the line…or WORSE, you may end up in Urgent Care or the ER—the 2 places that no one wants to go right now.
Instead, get some guidance from an expert, so you can learn how to treat it properly, so you can have a healthy and pain-free quarantine.