how can I be a nurse w/ a bad back???

  1. hi

    I am currently doing my pre-reqs for the nursing program at my local college.
    my problem is that I have problems w pulling my back out. yesterday, simple vacuuming
    had me on ice. Two weeks ago, it was scrubbing the bathtub.

    I have always heard that nursing was hard on the back, but what about those of us that have problems to begin with. What kind of a nurse will I be if I can't do some of the physical stuff required for care.?

    I suppose I should start now trying to strengthen my core....since this is alot of my problem!

    My mother in law even told me not to do the CNA program because of what it requires. the heck can I nurse???

    anyone??? thanks!
  2. Visit ChervRN profile page

    About ChervRN

    Joined: Feb '09; Posts: 98; Likes: 21
    from US


  3. by   SuesquatchRN
    Well, if you know that exercise would cure your ills get at it! Otherwise, look for something else. The sit-down nursing gigs don't happen at the beginning of your career.
  4. by   Moogie
    Get a thorough check-up with your primary care provider to see if you are healthy enough to do clinicals and to rule out any serious back conditions. Your back problems may be due to something other than weak muscles.

    If it turns out that your pain is associated with weak muscles, perhaps your PCP could prescribe physical therapy (including exercises) to strengthen your back and core muscles and prevent future injuries. I think you would be wise to work with a PT rather than doing it on your own to help avoid fatigue and injury during exercise. Personally, I would work with the PT over, say, a personal trainer because the PT will be covered by insurance if you have it and one doesn't always know how well-trained or experienced personal trainers are. Some are great and some aren't.

    Additionally, there are facilities that have "no lift" policies in order to prevent staff injury. Working in such a place will not mean that your back is always pain-free but it might help decrease the possibility of you getting injured.

    I thought my nursing career was done when I had a cervical laminectomy about eight years ago. At the time, I was not working and did not really expect to get back into nursing but once that door seemed closed, felt very discouraged. I eventually did get back into nursing and started up a parish nurse program. Since then, I went back to school, did a little teaching, got married and moved, worked LTC and am now finishing up my education so I can return to teaching. I have to admit that working LTC was not easy on my back or neck but, after seeing my PCP, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which makes floor nursing a real challenge. I am heading back to school so I can return to teaching nursing, which is my passion.
  5. by   GardenerGirl
    There is no way around reaching and leaning and stretching as a nurse, even if it's a "no lift" facility. You have to have good physical conditioning or you will suffer; and I mean suffer. If you are in need of losing weight (that is the major reason why I have chronic back pain,) get the weight issue under control and do the strengthening exercises you talked about. The better condition you are in physically, the better you will be able to perform the everyday tasks that all nurses must do. Find out what is the real problem with your back pain, and then adjust your future goals accordingly.

    Best of luck to you.
  6. by   CNA2day
    I am a CNA with a back problem. I have a herniated disk which up until the last few months has caused me some serious problems. My job actually HELPS my back. You walk a ton. Our facility has a 25lb weight limit on lifting anything more then that you are to go get help or use a lift. Not everyone does that but I SURE DO! I am not interested in hurting myself jsut because my partner is. You just have to be strong minded!
  7. by   Lacie
    My most recent facility we had a NO lift policy. If the pt could not stand independantly or pivot easily then 2 persons were required with hoyer lift only. Too many work comp claims in a short period they finally got the picture.
  8. by   ittybabyRN
    You could always try NICU nursing :-) Your heaviest patient might weigh 8-10 lbs...although standing for long periods of time at the isoletts/cribs can also cause back pain, and the bigger ones who have no temp problems and are in cribs are a pain if you are tall and you need to do a heel stick for blood and they are *bad* bleeders, you could be hovering over their beds for a while as well
  9. by   SCHERBING
    I am a recent RN graduate with a pars fracture to a lumbar vertebra looking for work. During school I worked as an LPN in long term care before that a CNA in LTC totaling about about 8 years. My doctor recommends that I get a desk job - SURE ???
    Anyway what are my options I need a job to pay off my student loans and start my life - I am 26 and freaked out. Please help.
    Last edit by SCHERBING on Jul 13, '12 : Reason: spelling error
  10. by   Ruby Vee
    your problem isn't being a nurse with a bad back, it's becoming a nurse with a bad back. there are many areas of nursing that don't require lifting . . . clinics, nicu, etc. but you have to get through clinicals first. i'd suggest getting a pt consult and asking for core strengthening exercises and tips for protecting your back. good luck.
  11. by   laydiebuug
    I am a nurse with a bad back. I have a pain management specialist and no I don't narcotics when working but when I am at work I limit what I pick up. I work in pediatrics and I have also done desk work (Case management) If I sit too long I have issue and if I stand too long I have pain. I am so used to pain that it doesn't bother me as much. I try as much as I can to be aware of my body mechanics. If you can't deal with your back then no don't get into nursing. I had a physical therapist tell me I was making a big mistake and I am into my fourth year being a nurse and I love it. I will say that yes you need to find a way to deal or don't waste your money being a nurse because everyone is right, you will still have to lift in a no-lift environment.
  12. by   debsmall
    As many of you seasoned nurses know, most of us have bad backs. I am no exception to the rule. 13 years of ER and ICU nursing has left me in pain mostly daily. I also have other issues as far as arthritis and yes...bone tumor. I am still working in the ER and i still love it. Somedays I wonder if i can handle the shift. but once i get there, poof! i sorta forget (only sorta). I am reminded when i get home how much I hurt. But i have a family to feed, clothe, and so on. Anyway, my can do anything you put your heart into. I may lose my arm due to this dang tumor, but i will find an way to stay working! No matter what, you must believe in yourself, and your purpose.
  13. by   sauconyrunner
    If your core is the issue (and I hate to say it but from what you are saying, it probably is), get to strengthening it. Not only will you do better but you will be able to vaccuum and clean the tub without this issue. AND when you are 90, you will have a lot better chance of being able to walk yourself to the bathroom, and use it ALONE, without someone hovering...THat is always in my mind when I dont want to do strength!