I finally did it. My BACK is really injured... now what??

  1. I and another nurse were cleaning my very large, vent-dependent patient who had a bed full of runny poop... and I strained my back while we were trying to hold him over (he was fighting). At first I thought it was simply another pulled back like the many I've had over the years, so I took some Advil and went about my way.

    Forward one week.

    I am limping, and my left leg has shooting pains down the back. My left groin hurts something awful, and I am unable to SIT for more than 10 or so minutes or I start having excruciating pain in my groin and down my leg. Also, my left arm and shoulder hurt as well.

    I filed an incident report (my first one for a personal reason) and went to see our orthopedic PA as required by my hospital's Employee Health Nurse. He diagnosed me with "left hip flexor strain/sprain" and "acute-on-chronic lumbar back pain", told me I was on restricted duty for five weeks (which means I get to do paperwork), and set me up for PT twice a week.

    No xrays, no MRIs, no nothing.

    Should I insist on diagnostic testing? I know that I've had back strains before, and I do currently suffer with back spasms after working a shift, but this leg and arm stuff is completely new to me and it HURTS. There is no way on earth that I'll be able to care for anyone like this if it doesn't get better! I'm also worried that he didn't ever really address the arm, nor the shooting pain down the back of my leg, which both seem like nerve issues to me. He said he was more concerned with the groin pain. I am wondering if this is because my back was hurting before this incident? He asked me if my back had hurt previously, and I told him that any nurse that came to him and said their back never hurt was a LIAR, and yes, of course my back has hurt previously.

    This is all Worker's Comp, of course. (I will be collecting my hourly rate of pay because I'm going in to do paperwork kinda stuff. My hospital has a "Transitional Workforce" for people on WC/restricted duty, so that my unit's budget doesn't pay for me while I'm out.) Does my progression through this so far seem accurate? Normal?

    I'm so upset about this, and worried as all heck. I am scared that I won't get better... and I also want to make sure that I'm treated appropriately and get the diagnostic testing that I need.

    Thanks for any advice, and for reading. I sure did need to vent!!
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  2. 19 Comments

  3. by   Shantas
    I am sorry to hear that you hurt your back....hugs..
    I also hurt my lower back once while I was pulling a patient up on the bed. I was not able lean forward, sit or even lay flat on my back or side becuase it was sooooooo painfull. I was also on workers comp, pt and light duty so on.
    It was very difficult to get paid through workers comp. I dont think they even paid me 50% of what I made...I was not sure about the exact percentage they pay....so just be carefull.
    Just for your own shake, may be you should see your own doc, I dont think workers comp will allow you to see your own doc but I think you can request. If you can perhaps ask your doc to have an x-ray done, just incase...Also dont miss those pt appointments!! They really helped me alot!
    Now I do not lift any overweight pt on my own. We have a lift team and I wait for them, I dont care even if the family bite my head off....my health is important to me....if I am sick I basically wont be able to provide for my family.
    I hope you feel better soon
  4. by   suanna
    Although laws vary from state to state if Ohio you cannot be denied to be allowed treatment by the physician of your choice. I would talk to your HR department about the appropriate forms and get evaluated by a physician you trust- be sure they are a W.C. provider first. The problem being you have only a limited number of weeks of modified duty or TTD before they can take your position. You don't want to waste a lot of your allowed leave/modified duty time without being sure the diagnosis is complete and well documented. If you find out you have a blown disc in 3mos and need to see a surgeon you are going to lose your job before you get back to work. Even if is more serious than a simple strain PT/OT may resolve the problem but I would be sure of the extent of the injury as soon as possible.
  5. by   Virgo_RN
    That could be any of us. No advice here, just take care!!!!!
  6. by   crissrn27
    Sorry to hear about your back trouble. I'm having the same thing right now. Except no "ah" moment for me, just started having pain. Not being able to work is hard, especially this time of year. Glad you are able to at least do the light duty thing, and that your hospital makes provisions for this! Hope you are better soon!
  7. by   MA Nurse
    Quote from SICU Queen
    I and another nurse were cleaning my very large, vent-dependent patient who had a bed full of runny poop... and I strained my back while we were trying to hold him over (he was fighting). At first I thought it was simply another pulled back like the many I've had over the years, so I took some Advil and went about my way.

    Forward one week.

    I am limping, and my left leg has shooting pains down the back. My left groin hurts something awful, and I am unable to SIT for more than 10 or so minutes or I start having excruciating pain in my groin and down my leg. Also, my left arm and shoulder hurt as well.

    I filed an incident report (my first one for a personal reason) and went to see our orthopedic PA as required by my hospital's Employee Health Nurse. He diagnosed me with "left hip flexor strain/sprain" and "acute-on-chronic lumbar back pain", told me I was on restricted duty for five weeks (which means I get to do paperwork), and set me up for PT twice a week.

    No xrays, no MRIs, no nothing.

    Should I insist on diagnostic testing? I know that I've had back strains before, and I do currently suffer with back spasms after working a shift, but this leg and arm stuff is completely new to me and it HURTS. There is no way on earth that I'll be able to care for anyone like this if it doesn't get better! I'm also worried that he didn't ever really address the arm, nor the shooting pain down the back of my leg, which both seem like nerve issues to me. He said he was more concerned with the groin pain. I am wondering if this is because my back was hurting before this incident? He asked me if my back had hurt previously, and I told him that any nurse that came to him and said their back never hurt was a LIAR, and yes, of course my back has hurt previously.

    This is all Worker's Comp, of course. (I will be collecting my hourly rate of pay because I'm going in to do paperwork kinda stuff. My hospital has a "Transitional Workforce" for people on WC/restricted duty, so that my unit's budget doesn't pay for me while I'm out.) Does my progression through this so far seem accurate? Normal?

    I'm so upset about this, and worried as all heck. I am scared that I won't get better... and I also want to make sure that I'm treated appropriately and get the diagnostic testing that I need.

    Thanks for any advice, and for reading. I sure did need to vent!!

    I'm so sorry to hear about your pain. I am wondering if you've ever considered working with babies? I am not trying to joke, I'm serious here. I worked with adults for about 2-3 years as a CNA and RN. I switched to the NICU and have been there for the last 17 1/2 years! It's wonderful! I know a lot of nurses who came to NICU because of back problems and weight restrictions.
    I tried the PICU for about 4 months and decided it really isn't for me. The kids are getting heavier and the work is so physically demanding.

    I'm not saying NICU is always easy emotionally, but physically it is much better than the work you described. The poop is much smaller, too! If they fight you, trust me, it won't hurt you. LOL.
    Seriously, please think about working with babies to save your back and everything else that could get hurt by heavy patients and patients who fight you!
    Just my 2cents!:spin:
  8. by   ICRN2008
    It sounds as if you have some reservations about the level of care that you received. If your private insurance would cover it, I would recommend seeking a second opinion.

    As an aside, being sent to the PA of your employer's choice when they would be the ones to pay workers comp in the case of an injury seems like a conflict of interest IMO.
  9. by   UKPedsRN
    Something similar happened to me years ago, when I worked in LA.
    I went to occupational health team, was sent home. After two days, I was crying with the pain, went back to occupational health, the nurse there told me I could see anyone I wanted.
    I choose to see a chiropractor who X rayed me, to find I had separated my SI joint, hence the shooting pains. He then contacted worker comp and I was sent for an MRI. After the MRI I was told I would never be able to work as a Paediatric nurse again, due to the damage.
    Thank fully my chiropractor worked with my for 9 months, guess what? I have never had another problem since!! I am working and no residual issues.
    I feel for you. I understand how hard it is to feel disabled when you are used to being active. My advice is to not give in, demand the best care for yourself, and give yourself time to heal!
    Good luck
  10. by   cmo421
    From someone who has been there, and done that, I say get legal help. Now. Look up your state's comp laws and regulations. Do not count on ur employer to do the right thing. Therapy should not be given without some type of xray to rule out cord issues.
    I waited two months before getting a lawyer,and regret it now.
    I am back to work on permanent light duty and in school to move on to bigger and better things! Hope u feel better and good luck! Feel free to email me if u have any questions.

    Christine
  11. by   cmo421
    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/566561



    Great article on back pain and the MD perspective and recommendations for treatment inicially.
  12. by   EmmaG
    Quote from BSNDec06
    It sounds as if you have some reservations about the level of care that you received. If your private insurance would cover it, I would recommend seeking a second opinion.

    As an aside, being sent to the PA of your employer's choice when they would be the ones to pay workers comp in the case of an injury seems like a conflict of interest IMO.
    I'd be very careful of that; in some states (mine for example) you cannot see anyone except the docs 'approved' by WC. It's not a conflict of interest, it's just the way it works. If you get your private insurance involved then you're going to risk losing the WC coverage (I'm thinking that private insurance might even deny a WC claim-related injury anyway).


    I had a neck injury, at first I thought just a strain but on the second day I was having numbness, weakness and tingling in my arm/hand/fingers. My case was nearly denied because I consulted with a neurologist--- not even officially, he was one I'd known for years and he examined me on the floor when he came to make his rounds. When I told HR and the WC doc what he suggested (which included an MRI), I received a call from the WC carrier blasting me for daring to go outside their system and threatening to drop the case altogether. I consulted with an attorney specializing in WC, and found out that by law, they called all the shots. I had to throw a fit, but was able to get the MRI and a consult with a neurosurgeon. Turns out it was nerve impingement due to a severely strained muscle.

    I guess what I'm saying is you need to jump through all the hoops, as aggravating as it may be. Don't go off on your own, at least until you consult with a WC attorney (mine offered a free consultation) and find out how to proceed specifically as it applies to your state's laws. Don't let 'em jerk you around, but play by the rules so you don't end up screwed.

    Good luck hun. Take care of yourself.

    edit: Christine offered very good advice. It would be in your best interest to consult with the attorney now, and find out how you need to proceed. They know the law; trust me, trying to make sense of it yourself is nearly impossible.
    Last edit by EmmaG on Dec 6, '07
  13. by   locolorenzo22
    i work on orthopedics..and let me mention that the rate of kypho and lamenictomies I see all time from nurses is pretty good, at least 1 per week! Take care of yourself, and I wouldn't count on WC covering hardly a thing! YOU are responsible for you and small money now may stop big problems later!
  14. by   oramar
    Oh, I feel so bad for you. Will read this thread with interest to see how you do.

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