nursing with back problem

  1. 0
    Hi i have a lower back problem and i guess im small for my size.. 5ft

    But i want to become a nurse (im applying to ABSN program next fall) and im just afraid that my back pain will, in any ways, hinder my career..

    Is using your back something very important as a nurse? Likr carrying heavy things and lifting patients and what not.. please help me
  2. Get the Hottest Nursing Topics Straight to Your Inbox!

  3. 713 Views
    Find Similar Topics
  4. 9 Comments so far...

  5. 2
    As a nurse, you are expected to be able to transfer and lift patients, but you are taught how to without causing injury to yourself and you can always ask for help. I have back issues myself (full spinal fusion) with chronic pain, but lifting/transferring patients was never a problem for me. The only thing that really caused problems was standing and walking for an entire shift. Get yourself some good shoes and don't be afraid to tell your preceptor if you need to sit when there is no patient care to be completed. Good luck!
    GrnTea and Jennybrie like this.
  6. 0
    I agree with the above post. I too have a chronic back condition that only bothers me when I do something wrong such as lifting a pt incorrectly or bending the wrong way. Shop around for a good pair of shoes and don't buy cheap unless you want to spend a lot more money on Dr visits and pain medications. Keep up with your physical therapy or at least continue to be physically active. Personally I like swimming to ease the tension on my back and give myself some peace and quiet after a long day. Bottom line....pursue your dream of becoming a nurse and just be aware of what your body is telling you and rest when you need to. Good luck!!
  7. 0
    Unless you practice in a setting where lifting is not a requirement, you should expect that your condition will be aggravated and may cause permanent disability. Most back injuries reported in the USA are attributed to nursing. Sorry, cannot cite the reference.
  8. 1
    I worked in rehab for work comp for a loooong time and have also had back surgery, AND I have also read the literature, so I know whereof I speak. Most back injuries in the US are NOT in the RN population.

    Backs are stupid when it comes to localizing pain-- a knife wound, a fracture, a ruptured disk, a torn or sprained muscle, pressure on a nerve root from swelling, chemical irritation to a nerve root by the products of inflammation from that muscle ... they all feel about the same. Scary. But there are very, very few true back injury emergencies, and there's a difference between dangerous and nondangerous pain. The vast majority of back injuries are muscular in nature.

    There was a large study done using people who reported never having a back injury and not having current back pain; they all had MRIs to see how their backs looked. Forty percent had disk bulges, asymmetries, or protrusions....and yet they had NO back pain. Now, if some had tripped over the curb on their way out from the study MRI and experienced back pain and gone back, would someone have diagnosed those variants as the cause of their pain? Maybe. But it is beginning to look more and more like those MRI findings are normal variants with aging and not the cause of back pain.

    Another huge study (more than 2K participants working in warehouses) looked at those lumbar support belts that a lot of folks thing protects their backs. Not true. They feel really good but over six months the abdominal and back muscles weaken. People start using lousy body mechanics because they think the belt protects them. Then the incidence of back injury between belt-wearers and non-belt-wearers is approximately equal....but the belt-wearers have more surgery, longer physical therapy, more long-term disability, and more permanent disability. So much for protection. I see those in the Home Depot and the Post Office and I tell them that.

    Speak to a good physiatrist (MD or DO with a specialty in rehabilitation) whose practice is largely back rehab. S/he will be able to explain to you the difference between dangerous and nondangerous pain and will also hook you up with a good back rehab PT program to strengthen your core to decrease the chances of sustaining a real injury, how to work hard with pain and not fear it, AND to teach you how to manage any flares you have. Again, flares of nondangerous pain are ... well, not dangerous. People who understand this have a much higher quality of life living with their backs than people who restrict themselves, get more and more deconditioned, have more pain when they do even less because of the deconditioning, and end up in a real hole. This is also a really good thing to remember for patient teaching.

    Do not ever expect to go through life without pain (no human does go through life without some degree of back pain at some time), but do expect to go through life being able to manage it successfully and work a full life. There are excellent people to help you do just that.

    And you know what? Research also shows that ten years post injury, there is no difference between people who have surgery for nondangerous pain and people who don't. "Ten years!" I hear you cry. "I can't wait ten years!" Yeah, well, the ten years will happen anyway, and when you have had a life for those ten years (as opposed to having a restricted life) you will discover you're a lot better off.

    Don't worry about being a nurse. You can do it. See the back folks.
    Jennybrie likes this.
  9. 0
    My mother went into nursing with a bad back. Within seven years she did so much damage she ended up needing surgery and had to leave the profession completely. I wouldn't recommend it.

    A common thread in our training is SAVE YOUR BACK! We do a lot of bending, stooping, pushing, pulling, and lifting and our backs are at stake. If you hurt yourself too badly, you beside career is over. So yes, back issues are definitely something to consider!
  10. 0
    Another thing to consider is that when our mothers were working there was much less awareness of safe lifting technique, far fewer mechanical lifts, and no expectation that a facility would use ceiling lifts in bariatric units. The beds weren't as flexible for positioning, turning, etc. And of course physiatry for back rehab wasn't nearly what it is now. I'd bet that your mother wouldn't even have surgery now because the treatment options are so much better. Let's not forget that anecdote is not the singular of data, and let's not scare the OP unnecessarily.

    Sure, we all have to be aware of our body mechanics. We also have a responsibility to remember that if we are in jobs that require physical fitness, we'd better become (or stay) physically fit.
  11. 1
    I injured my back lifting a pateint with an old hoyer lift back in 1980. I had to have surgery L2 thru S1 with a fusion. Did I hurt every day? Yes sometimes....I celebrated when Ibuprofen went over the counter. I cried when they removed Vioxx from the market. I nursed at the bedside in the ED/CVICU and trauma flight for 34 yrears.

    It can be done....it's all what your really want.
    Jennybrie likes this.
  12. 0
    Quote from GrnTea
    Another thing to consider is that when our mothers were working there was much less awareness of safe lifting technique, far fewer mechanical lifts, and no expectation that a facility would use ceiling lifts in bariatric units. The beds weren't as flexible for positioning, turning, etc. And of course physiatry for back rehab wasn't nearly what it is now. I'd bet that your mother wouldn't even have surgery now because the treatment options are so much better. Let's not forget that anecdote is not the singular of data, and let's not scare the OP unnecessarily.

    Sure, we all have to be aware of our body mechanics. We also have a responsibility to remember that if we are in jobs that require physical fitness, we'd better become (or stay) physically fit.
    She had back surgery 4 years ago. . Herniated disk and a little piece broke off and found a cozy spot putting pressure on her spinal cord. She was completely immobilized until surgery.

    I actually started having lower back problems a few months ago and thought I was doomed to have some sort of genetic problems. Turns out I've been getting knots in my pinformis muscles that put pressure on my sciatic nerves that radiates to my lower back. Instead of back surgery I get a new mattress and weekly massages. Can't complain!
  13. 0
    If you are lifting with your back you are doing it wrong...legs, legs, legs.

    I have back issues as well from years of gymnastics (same height as you ). I herniated 2 discs in my lower back and ended up with a stress fracture in the vertebra between those two discs. I have pain from time to time but I find the 3 important things are well fitting, supportive shoes (if you need custom insoles, get them), keeping a strong core (I swear by my ab workouts), and using proper body mechanics. I also swear by my chiropractor. I go every other week to get adjusted. I would love to go every week but I just don't have time between work and school. I ache, I take a ibuprofen, and try to focus on my posture to alleviate pressure. I've accepted this back pain will always be a part of my life (much like the pain from arthritis in my ankles) and I will just have to find ways to cope with it.


Top