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Avoid holiday back and shoulder injuries with these luggage safety tips

Avoid holiday back and shoulder injuries with these luggage safety tips

You go to lift your luggage into the overhead compartment, and you feel something twinge. Now, you’re left with back or shoulder pain while trying to enjoy your holiday.

It’s a more common injury scenario than you might think. From heavy bags to improper lifting, more than 80,000 people visited the emergency room for injuries related to luggage, bags, or backpacks in 2019, according to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.

“Shoulder injuries tend to happen when your arms are extended out or above your head, like when you put luggage in an overhead bin or into a carrier on top of a car,” says Adam C. Hines, MD, a sports and shoulder orthopedic surgeon at Total Orthopedics Sports & Spine. “Back injuries are more likely when you bend at your hips and use your back strength instead of lifting with your legs.”

Fortunately, you can take steps to help protect both your shoulders and back this holiday season. As you get ready to travel, remember these luggage safety tips:

  • Make sure you’re on a firm, stable foundation before lifting luggage
  • Use both arms to lift luggage
  • Bend your knees, keep your back straight, and avoid bending at the hips when lifting
  • Be aware of heavy bags and the amount of weight you can or can’t lift
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help and use two people to lift any heavy baggage
  • Roll luggage whenever possible instead of carrying it
  • Carry a backpack with two shoulder straps
  • Use your backpack’s waist belt to carry weight on top of the hips if it is heavy

If you do feel a twinge or ache when carrying or lifting luggage this holiday, you can treat most minor injuries at home. Try ice, acetaminophen, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to care for minor back and shoulder injuries.

“For shoulder injuries, try to maintain as much motion as possible as well,” Dr. Hines says. “This is especially important for older individuals and those with diabetes because they are more at risk of developing a condition called frozen shoulder if they stop moving due to an injury.”

Typically, minor injuries will get better in a few days. However, if you notice decreased motion or difficulty lifting with a shoulder injury, back pain with numbness or tingling that shoots down the leg, or pain that’s getting in the way of sleep, it’s time to call your doctor to get checked.

Above all, it’s important to know and accept your abilities when it comes to luggage this holiday season. When in doubt, don’t try to lift it on your own.

“Recognize your limits and ask for help if you know you can’t lift a bag or piece of luggage,” Dr. Hines says. “The holidays are meant to be enjoyed with family and friends, not spent in the emergency room or the doctor’s office.”

Orthopedic Services near McKinney and Richardson

Whether you are looking to prevent and injury or want to treat a current one, Total Orthopedics Sports and Spine is here to help you. Make an appointment, or contact us today!