How to Manage Housework with Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can make managing housework difficult but these tasks have to be done at some point. Daily chores are part of life and if you don’t manage the light housework with chronic pain, it can easily get out of control. If you haven’t followed along with my story, I have had to deal with chronic low back pain for 6 years and I opted to have major back surgery to fix my disc at L5-S1. It was a painful surgery but it was worth it even though it didn’t solve my pain issues after extensive physical therapy. A few months into my recovery, I noticed that my small joints were hurting and I mentioned it to my rheumatologist at a routine appointment. It has been nearly a year since I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and it has been a learning process for me.

How to Manage Housework with Chronic Pain

My rheumatologist put me on a short burst of prednisone to determine if it was helpful. Prednisone helped decrease the mild swelling and pain in my smaller joints. She diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis and started me on Humira in May. Even though the medication didn’t help take away all of my pain, it was working to control the inflammation and joint damage. This winter has been crazy and my medication seemed to stop working. 🙁

Over the last few months, I have dealt with two cases of strep throat and my feet started aching on a constant basis. I am so nervous how the disease has progressed since my feet started hurting more lately. I am super frustrated because I want to continue my weight loss journey. Losing weight helps reduce the load on my joints. However, it is hard to exercise when you are in constant pain let alone get the housework and other daily activities done. I do apologize for the long intro but I wanted to update you on my journey with rheumatoid arthritis too. It is a learning process for me and I am constantly researching the disease.

Today, I wanted to share with you some tips on how to manage housework with chronic pain. You can also use a few of these tips to conquer other daily activities too.

Make a List

This seems like a no-brainer but when chronic pain and brain fog takes over, I find it very difficult to remember the things that I need to get done. Plus, keeping a list can help you keep up with managing your housework with chronic pain and other daily activities. You can even make a list on your cell phone which can make adding items to your list easier especially if you can utilize voice recognition. Voice recognition is a great tool to use when your hands hurt.

I don’t use lists nearly enough but they are a great tool to use. I love that you can even look back at your list and see how much you have accomplished especially when depression sets in.

You can even make a list on your cell phone which can make adding items to your list easier especially if you can utilize voice recognition. Voice recognition is a great tool to use when your hands hurt.

Keep the Clutter at Bay

Clutter seems to accumulate rather quickly in our house. When I don’t clean up the clutter, in a few days it can start to get overwhelming. Clutter harbors dust and it makes your home look messy. Take a few minutes at the end of the day to declutter.

Do a Little Bit Each Day

I have made it a point to try and do a small amount of cleaning every day. Even if you spend 15 minutes a day taking care of the household chores, it will make a huge difference. If your pain is super high, try to find a few tasks that you can do sitting down such as matching socks.

Laundry is a huge undertaking for a family of four. Since we moved in January, I have tried not stuffing the washer to the brim so that I am not overwhelmed when it comes to folding and putting up the laundry. I struggle with the frequent bending that is required to get the clothes out of the dryer.

Also, you can break up your chores throughout the day. Utilize your list and work on the items that are a top priority first.

Clean Up Immediately

Cleaning up after yourself also making things so much easier. Unless the stove is too hot or you are feeling dizzy, try to clean up the mess immediately. It will make life easier and you don’t have to come back to the mess later.

Use Tools to Make Chores Easier

Don’t be afraid to use tools to make cleaning or doing chores easier. Like I mentioned earlier, laundry is pretty difficult for me to do. Frequent bending causes my low back to spasm and it quickly escalates my pain. I keep meaning to buy a tool to help make reaching into the dryer easier but it always slips my mind.

Find the right tools to help you accomplish your daily housework with chronic pain. Tools are there to making it easier. So use the scooter at the store, park closer to the door so that you don’t have to walk so far, and don’t feel bad for making your daily activities easier.

Ask for Help

If there is something that you need help with, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is inevitable that you will have high pain days and will require assistance. People are willing to help you with errands or eve help you clean up if you ask nicely.

Order Groceries and Household Goods Online

A few weeks ago, I ordered my groceries online because I didn’t have the energy to go walk the store. It was the first time using this service and I was a bit skeptical at first. However, I am now in love with it because I can get my grocery shopping done.

Now there will be no more steering that clunky scooter cart around while getting glares from every angle because I don’t look like I am in pain. Or I can delay going to the store for a few things, for a day when my pain isn’t as high. It has been a very long time since I can even remember when I wasn’t in constant pain. Plus, why spend an hour or more in the grocery store when someone else will fulfill your order while you sleep.

Downsize

Downsize your Home if it Helps You Manage Housework with Chronic Pain

Taking care of a large home was very overwhelming and we decided to downsize our home. Downsizing isn’t always ideal but sometimes it is necessary to be able to keep up with chores and daily activities. A smaller space is a bit easier to keep clean especially if you keep the clutter at bay.

I also suggest finding a place that has all hardwood floors or tile throughout. It is easier to use a dust mop and my swifter mop to keep the floors clean. No more lugging vacuum or steam cleaner around to keep the carpet clean.

Hire Someone to Assist You on a Regular Basis

At some point, I am sure that the disease will make doing the chores and running errands very difficult. This is something that has weighed on my mind over the last several weeks because the disease will continue to progress unless they find a cure. The last thing I want to do is to give up my freedom but it is a reality one day. Thankfully, you can hire someone to help you or even move to an assisted living facility.

If you are at this point, ask your doctor if you qualify for physical therapy in your home to help get you stronger to be able to do a few things on your own again. Your doctor would also be able to refer you to someone who can help care for you when loved ones aren’t home.

Managing to keep up with the housework is hard enough with our ever demanding schedules. Since I had my back surgery, I am a bit stronger than I was before having it done. However, my pain hasn’t faded one bit. The thought of rheumatoid arthritis scares the crap out of me and I have tried to make it a point to do what I can to contribute to taking care of the housework even if I only do a small task a day. It makes me feel like I actually accomplished something. Plus, it helps keep me semi-active even on my high pain days.

Do you have any other suggestions on how to manage housework with chronic pain? What works for you?

 

Posted by uprunforlife

Christy is married to her best friend and has three children. When she isn't writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, playing video games, reading books, or listening to music. She loves to write and help other people to take the focus off of her chronic health problems.

This article has 19 Comments

  1. This is the kind of post that makes me so happy I don’t suffer from any chronic conditions. They drastically impact your life. Excellent resource for anyone who suffers from chronic pain.

  2. I struggle to keep up with housework without the added hurdle of chronic pain, so I can only imagine. I think doing a little bit each day is a wonderful idea.

  3. Doing a little bit each day really does help. I have started doing that since I am running a business and a blog and became overwhelmed with house and life.

  4. This is a VERY good list! I have chronic pain as well. The brain fog is REAL! I could not exist without keeping lists! I also love the tip about cleaning up right away. It is a touchy area when you have chronic pain deciding if you go for surgery and face the PT and pain from the surgery or just deal with the devil you know.

  5. My Sister suffers from chronic pain and has a hard time keeping up with the house work. She did find it easier when she downsized her home. I will have to share this post with her.

  6. I’m glad to hear that your new place is all on one level – for me, moving into a new apartment was one major thing that I did for myself. Stairs are definitely NOT my friends at all and I try to avoid them at all costs.

  7. Downsizing is a great idea. It must be hard to try to do a lot with pain let alone people that have kids. I wouldn’t know what to do if I had to deal with this pain with two toddlers.

  8. These are great tips. Keeping your house clean can be such a challenge when you have chronic pain, so it is great to have solutions for any problems you may face.

  9. I don’t suffer from chronic pain, but from a chronic health condition that renders me incapable to do things on some days, but I really like your tips. Especially the cluttering one. Somehow clutter does accumulate for me as well, and I make the mistake that I always let it, until my apartment is a mess and it overwhelms me.

    So I will start there, and just see if I can invest 5-10 minutes at the end of the day to clean up clutter. Maybe make it a routine before bed or something. Thanks a lot for this article. 🙂

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