Another COVID-19 Side-Effect: At-Home Injuries

For the millions of Americans working from home as a resultof the coronavirus pandemic, it may come as no surprise to learn that doctorsare seeing an increase in the number of patients with injuries sustained athome.

Roy Cardoso, M.D., hand and upper extremity surgeon, Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute

According to RoyCardoso, M.D., a hand and upper extremity surgeon at Miami Orthopedics &Sports Medicine Institute, part of Baptist Health South Florida,people have been finding all sorts of ways to hurt themselves – tackling a homeimprovement project, attempting repairs beyond their skill level or simply sittingin a different chair or position while working on a computer.

“We’re seeing a lot of trauma to fingers from hammers, and just had one patient who sustained serious nerve damage when he punctured his thumb with a screwdriver,” says Dr. Cardoso. “We’re also seeing a lot of people breaking bones from falling off ladders, tearing muscles from heavy lifting, or hurting themselves from working out at home because their gym is closed.”

It should go without saying, but Dr. Cardoso advises againstdoing any home improvement projects while under the influence of alcohol orother substances. “Impaired motor coordination and power tools are a dangerouscombination,” he says. “As with any type of manual labor, be aware of thedangers, take your time, and focus on one task at a time. Don’t try to doeverything at once.”

Another common cause of at-homeinjuries, Dr. Cardoso says, is poor ergonomics, which can contribute to painfulconditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger and a variety ofrepetitive stress injuries.

“At the office, your workspace isprobably designed to help you avoid common aches and pains from poor posture,”Dr. Cardoso says. “But now people are working from home, sitting on their sofaor at the dinner table, hunched over their laptop, and they’re suddenlynoticing pain in their neck, shoulders, back, elbows, wrists or fingers.” Also,he says, pain in one area can cause you to overcompensate with other muscles,which can put added stress on those muscles.

Working at a computer requires good back posture and lumbarsupport, according to Dr. Cardoso. “Don’t hunch forward – sit tall with yourshoulders pushed back comfortably. Your elbows should be extended, not bent,and your computer screen should be a comfortable distance and height so youdon’t strain or lean forward.” He also recommends taking regular breaks to dosome basic stretches from the shoulder down. (A selection of short and simpleinstructional videos demonstrating different stretches can be found at the end ofthis article.)

Dr. Cardoso says there are some people who definitely needcare but are putting it off because of the coronavirus. “A lot of our patientsare elderly and afraid of COVID-19, and they’re holding on to their pain,” henotes. “One patient suffered with a wrist fracture for more than a month beforeshe came in to see us.” Some patients are also trying to treat themselves butdoing the wrong things, he says, underscoring the importance of seeing anexperienced specialist who can provide an accurate diagnosis.

Automated temperature screeners and other safety measures are used at Baptist Health facilities throughout South Florida to ensure the safety of patients and staff

Patients at Miami Orthopedics & Sports MedicineInstitute – or any Baptist Health facility –should rest assured that everypossible precautionary measure is being taken and that the safety of patientsand staff is paramount.

“We make sure that everyone is screened before entering and that masks are worn at all times,” Dr. Cardoso says. “We also ensure social distancing in our lobbies, waiting rooms and other public areas, and clean all high-touch surfaces regularly throughout the day.”

Concerned you may have coronavirus?
Use our online Coronavirus Assessment tool or call our COVID-19 hotline, 1-833-MYBAPTIST (833-692-2784). To see a doctor on your phone from the comfort and safety of your home, download Baptist Health Care On Demand.



•  Lateral flexion:

•  Improvingposture:


•  Doorwaystretch:

•  Rhomboid doorway stretch:


•   Medium nerve glide:

•   Finger tendon glide:

•   Wristflexion:

•   Wrist extension:

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With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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