Back Injuries and the RN/LPN/Healthcare worker - page 2

by madwife2002 Asst. Admin

15,333 Visits | 27 Comments

The statistics regarding back injuries are frightening with aprox 80% of Adults expected to experience back injuries in their lifetime with 10% re-injuring! When it comes to health care professionals the statistics are even... Read More


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    Check out the statistics at NIOSH. We are consistently in the top 10 for injuries.
    I'm a washed up nurse at 58 due to a back injury in 2006. I didn't get the proper PT until I got a lawyer and he got me into a proper PT program...but my employer no longer wanted me.
    I am not reliable, unable to guarantee that I can work more than 6 hours, nor a 40 hour work week. I'm applying for SSDI, cos there just aren't places for me to work around here that won't stress my body too much. I've ballooned up from a fit 130 lbs to over 200 and I am five foot one.

    I loved my job and feel if I'd been rehabbed properly the first time, would still be working.

    My injury had nothing to do with improper body mechanics; it had to do with a patient suddenly sliding off an OR table. Her knees had been replaced and there was no way in hell that I was going to let those knees hit the floor. Luckily for her, she had a bit of whiplash, but nothing more. Sadly for me, I felt something in my back POP and tear. However, my back injury is rated at only 3%....

    I have so much experience to offer and no where to offer it.

    SO- the best thing any nurse can do for her/himself is to exercise and make sure that your back and abdomen are in terrific shape at a minimum. Keeping fit will protect you from injuries.

    Funny thing, in the UK, there is no person to person lifting; they use machine assists. Ad they've been doing it for years...

    What's wrong with American nurses that we can't get the same treatment? WINGS has been trying to get a bill passed that requires all facilities to have lifting machines of all types plus asking why nurses can't qualify for the same treatment that police and firemen get in regards to injury. They get invalidated out and get disability support without having to jump through all kinds of hoops, unlike nurses.
    madwife2002 and HazelLPN like this.
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    I'm thankful for this thread. While I do have back and neck troubles due to being hit by a drunk driver nearly 20 years ago, my largest trouble-makers are my knee, hip, and wrist. I desperately want to work in the medical field, and intend to resume my nursing education (unless I find another position in healthcare that would be a better fit for my physical limitations before then), but I am *very* concerned that I will be too physically limited to do so.

    I imagine all nursing is taxing on your body, but are there any roles / departments etc (in addition to the obvious, management) I could do that would be less taxing on my already injured body (albeit I am getting a new knee in the next couple years when I'm able to take off that much work).
    madwife2002 likes this.
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    dclamb3,
    Have you thought about Case Management, Clinical Liason, MDS coordinator, Infection Control? They would all definitely require some advanced training, but they would all be less taxing on your body. I'm hoping to complete training for MDS soon- already having my RN degree it only requires a 3-day class! Good luck!
    madwife2002 and dclamb3 like this.
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    Quote from nrsemb
    dclamb3,
    Have you thought about Case Management, Clinical Liason, MDS coordinator, Infection Control? They would all definitely require some advanced training, but they would all be less taxing on your body. I'm hoping to complete training for MDS soon- already having my RN degree it only requires a 3-day class! Good luck!
    No, I hadn't. I didn't even know where to start. I will absolutely be Googling those. Thank you so very much! Good luck to you!!!
    madwife2002 likes this.
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    I'm not an RN with a back injury, I'm an LPN with a knee injury, so I hope my contribution is welcome.

    I worked in critical care nursing for many years and always tried to be careful with lifts...keeping the center of gravity low and lifiting with the legs vs the back. My back is okay after all these years, but my knee was replaced right after I retired from critical care nursing. In fact, it was the reason for my retirement. Most of my experience was in adult ICU, but transitioned into PICU and NICU during the last 17 years of my career. If I had to do it all over again, I would have been a PICU nurse from the start and never messed with adults. Even if one is careful, adult ICU is still a very physically demanding job that gets harder as you get older.

    I don't remember many obese patients in the 50s, 60s and 70s. I have no peer reviewed research to support my hypothesis, but I believe it had to do with the fact that many families were still eating home cooked meals from fresh ingredients. During World War II, I remember my mother and grandmother had a victory garden...and that's where I got my love of gardening and cooking from. Starting in the 1980s, I think people started to turn to fast and processed foods because they were quick and easy and that's when I began noticing that the typical adult ICU (especially MICU) patients were becoming bigger and bigger...especially as I older and older. and it became harder and harder for me to physically mange them. If I wanted to stay in critical care nursing, I had to stop taking care of such large patients, so I cut my hours drastically in the MICU and got crossed trained at the childrens hospital in their PICU where I worked contingent until my retirement.

    I now work as a substitute assistant school nurse for a large urban district serving many students who live in poverty. They only have one credit of high school health, there is no home economics anymore, and we are starting to see Type II Diabetics as early as the middle grades. I think if we put more emphasis on nutrition and good home cooking, we wouldn't have so many problems with obesity and the health problems that come with it. I wish I could take the students I now work with to the the MICU where I used to work to show these kids what happens when they get in patterns of making poor dietary and lifestyle choices. I also wish we could bring back home ec for everyone (girls and boys) to help them learn that cooking really isn't so hard and time consuming once you learn the basics, and a simple roast chicken is not hard to make and tastes so much better than any processed food from a cardboard box.
    Hoozdo, noreenl, madwife2002, and 1 other like this.
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    HazelLPN, your experience helped me (and I'm sure many others) greatly. If you're doing a physically demanding job, and you're discussing how to do that job with an injury, most injuries are going to limit you in a similar capacity so the topic is lateral, no matter which injury you're discussing. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    Ironically, similar to you, my knee is past due for replacing and the areas you worked in are the areas that interest me. My main focus was going to be on the CICU or something similar, but you've definitely given me a lot to think about.

    I'm 35yo, and should have listened to the family when they told me at 15yo that I needed to be in medicine. I fear I realized it too late that they're right. I REALLY need to be in healthcare in some way, but am just not certain my body is going to allow it. Perhaps I should consider becoming a physical therapist or something else less taxing than nursing. What that is, I'm still figuring out what all the options are.

    And AMEN to your comments about nutrition. I couldn't agree more. If I could afford to have a financially unstable job, I'd go into nutrition or personal training (for those with injuries, like myself).
    Last edit by dclamb3 on Sep 28, '11
    noreenl, madwife2002, and HazelLPN like this.
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    I am currently filing for disability because of an old car wreck injury. I did everything right to protect and care for my back, but the daily stress of just doing my job is what finally destroyed it for me....To add insult to injury, I was terminated from my last job because I was still on medical leave with three letters from my doctor saying I could not return to work because treatment wasn't complete, and because of use of narcotic pain meds.....didn't matter, my facility sited "staffing shortages" and would not grant a leave of absence. I am really having a hard time coming to grips with the fact I will not be able to practice nursing again....major surgery is in my future, and I cannot even walk to the bathroom from my bed (15 feet!) without extreme pain. I am pretty much housebound, and depression overwhelms me most days. But I am still alive, and able to nurse my husband a little, so I will thank God everyday for the 10 years He allowed me to work....and wait to see what He has next for me to do.......
    madwife2002 likes this.
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    Quote from Hosserdawg
    I am currently filing for disability because of an old car wreck injury. I did everything right to protect and care for my back, but the daily stress of just doing my job is what finally destroyed it for me....To add insult to injury, I was terminated from my last job because I was still on medical leave with three letters from my doctor saying I could not return to work because treatment wasn't complete, and because of use of narcotic pain meds.....didn't matter, my facility sited "staffing shortages" and would not grant a leave of absence. I am really having a hard time coming to grips with the fact I will not be able to practice nursing again....major surgery is in my future, and I cannot even walk to the bathroom from my bed (15 feet!) without extreme pain. I am pretty much housebound, and depression overwhelms me most days. But I am still alive, and able to nurse my husband a little, so I will thank God everyday for the 10 years He allowed me to work....and wait to see what He has next for me to do.......
    That's a terrible situation. I feel your frustration and pain. Injuries keep me from the profession I'm passionate about (medicine), and my anti-depression activities of sports, weight training, and walking my puppies. The only thing keeping me from losing my mind due to anger at being hit by that drunk driver and limiting my entire life is the though that things happen for a reason, and I try to find the upside. While I won't be entering medicine due to my limitations, I do care for others in a different way (I care for them emotionally by regularly visiting my local nursing home with my puppies, which the residents delight in, and we sit and talk and I listen to what's going on with them, something that is special to them as some don't even have family to visit them). I can no longer play the sports that I love, but the doctor approved me taking up swimming. So while it may be frustrating at times, try to look beyond what you're no longer able to do, and try to see what you are now being introduced to that you may have never thought to do before (like your version of nursing home visits and swimming .
    brandy1017, noreenl, and madwife2002 like this.
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    Good read, thanks.
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    agreed! I am injured RN from way back. I still suffer lower backpain, and always will, according to the ortho that checked me out. No matter how careful you are, the potential for client action back injury will always be outthere. No matter how much education you go to, the potential is great. Make sure you go in to a patient that has violent history, or AZ with a backup. And be BLOODY CAREFUL! Its your ass on line, and not much backup from management.
    Once you get into the stream of compensation, remember, these people work FOR compensation, NOT YOU!

    Too much lip service has been giving to, you must or should do this. Its false hope you need to adjust to. Just: BE CAREFUL.



    So what choices do we have if we are part of the 80% group? not much.

    We are fortunate in nursing to have a profession which can take us from bedside to chair side with out actually changing our profession.

    The hard part is finding what is available to RN's who suffer from such ailments!

    Up until recently most potential nurses went into the profession to work as a bedside nurse, without giving much thought to working in other area's.

    Now 'potential' student nurses are more informed and have greater ambitions of working in other area's once they qualify. This has angered a lot of seasoned nurses who feel that time served at the bedside should preempt career moves into more advanced positions because this is the way it was always done before. I myself used to believe that time served was the way forward but understand that there is always positiveness in change.

    Change can be the stepping stone for many current and potential future RN's who suffer from back injuries, as more and more people enter the profession to bypass 'the old way' of time served, the more information presents itself of how we the back sufferers can envision our future. The 'greedy' universities who tempt anybody and everybody to do their courses by any means necessary can also educate us in the way we can nurse with imperfections and offer courses for everything connected to nursing.

    All we need to do is tap into this great resource.

    I often see threads about 'Bedside nursing is not for me' or 'Chronic pain sufferer where is my future in Nursing'

    These threads are a wealth of information and are well worth reading as our members are a huge resource. Normally the members who respond with idea's have a great deal of knowledge on the subject, making these threads and members a wonderful resource to tap into.

    Another good document I read during my research into back issues and nurses/healthcare workers can be found on the following link

    Chapter 39. Personal Safety for Nurses[/QUOTE]
    madwife2002 likes this.


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