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Back Injury


Specializes in Operating Room Nursing. Has 6 years experience.

This is not a thread asking for medical advice.

I woke up today with a stiff lower back. I thought maybe it was the way I slept or something and assumed that once I'd started walking around it would loosen up.

I got to work and when I was putting my scrub pants on it was like a ripping pain in my right lower back. I couldn't weight bear, reach for anything sideways and I had to be taken to ED. I had some panadeine forte (acitominophen with codeine) which seemed to take the edge off but I can barely walk or anything. It's not as bad as it initially was but there is no way I can lift anything more than 2 kg at the moment.

I'm going to be getting an MRI within the next two days. The doc seems to think that it may be sciatica.

Has anyone else here experienced sciatica? I'm worried that this will be the end of my career. :cry:

ohmeowzer RN, RN

Specializes in ob/gyn med /surg.

i have never had sicata but i have ad patients who have, it is very painful. i am so sorry this happened to you, i hope you are feeling better soon. please keep us posted on your MRi results.

Sciatica is more of a shooting pain that travels the length of (or close to the length of) your leg.

I had a very sore lower back back when I was hunched over all the time at way back in practicum, where the beds would only raise up to my thighs as opposed to my waist. Keep an eye on your body mechanics! If you're bending over, rethink what you're doing.

Also, Rub A535 does wonders :)

I don't think this is sciatica, as sciatic pain would likely travel along the sciatic nerve.

Either way, sorry you are in pain. Take time to heal and I hope you're feeling better soon!

diane227, LPN, RN

Specializes in Management, Emergency, Psych, Med Surg. Has 32 years experience.

I have chronic low back pain that radiates across my lower back and into my crotch. Sometimes in goes down into my legs. I have weakness in my right leg. I have a disk rupture at L5-S1 (the most common location) and the problem gets worse every day. I limp at work daily. I have to pick up my right leg to get into my car. But I go to work anyway. I see a neurologist. I just had an updated MRI today and am going for a nerve conduction study in two weeks. I have had multiple weeks of physical therapy, back injections, you name it, I have had it. It depends on how you cope with pain. I do not take narcotics. I take a very old drug call Volterin. It takes the edge off. Once we get these studies done we are then going to decide on the different types of therapies that can help depending on exactly where the pain is coming from per the nerve conduction study.

Let me give you some advice. Stay away from an orthopedic doctor. Never allow an orthopedic doctor to touch your spine. If I end up having to have surgery, it will be with a neurosurgeon. And if you have to go that route, find the best one you can. Do research and go to the best one you can, even if he is out of your state. I am sticking with my neurologist for now. I started with the ortho doctor but it was no help at all. It was actually more painful.

At work, I really can't lift people very well unless they are in a certain position, and I can't bend over for any period of time, say to bend over and start an IV. I have to sit down to do that task. For me, I have just had to lean to do things in a different way. I am lucky however. Being the charge nurse, I am not out walking the floor. I can walk very slowly only. I can walk for only about 15-20 minutes before I get really bad low back pain. Sitting is painful. The only time my back does not hurt is when I am lying down.

So if you are a nurse and you do this for long enough, this is what you have to look forward to. Goes with the profession.


Specializes in Operating Room Nursing. Has 6 years experience.

I had the MRI done today...interesting experience that hopefully I never have to repeat.

So of course the hospital did not arrange any follow up appointments at all, the receptionist had absolutely no idea on how to get my results so I had to arrange for them to be sent to my GP. Hopefully this will go through on time.

Diane-sorry to hear about your experience. The pain is still radiating down my right leg to about mid thigh and my lower back is stiff. I get really paranoid when changing because I'm worried about it happening again. I can't walk properly yet and have trouble sitting down for long periods. I will definately be seeing a neurosurgeon rather than orthopaedic because I've also heard never let an ortho person touch your spine.

So I will update you all on the results. Right now I'm trying not to worry too much and hope it's something that can be resolved soon.


Specializes in Operating Room Nursing. Has 6 years experience.

The results are in, I have bulging discs in L4-5 and L5-S1. L5-S1 has a tear in the disc as well.

So it's off work for another week, lots more painkillers and anti-emetics because the codeine is making me feel sick.

I just hope this isn't the end of my OR career. :(

chicookie, BSN, RN

Specializes in Peds Hem, Onc, Med/Surg. Has 8 years experience.

aw I am so sorry about the bad news! I hope it can be resolved quickly and soon.


Specializes in Med Surg. Has 4 years experience.

Good luck Scrubby,

I had a similar injury after repeatedly repositioning a 400+ lb patient one day (not enough nurses on the floor to safely move her and it was a holiday so no more help available!). I've been on Workers Comp (in the States) for over a year and I'm wondering if I'll work again. I have a lifting limitation of 25 lbs and there seems to be a pattern here of making all jobs require more than that.

The sciatica pain can be incredibly intense. At one point I was numb in my right back thigh and foot with notable weakness on that side as well as the pain in buttock and thigh. The spine surgeon was worthless; he only offered pain medication. I concur with the recommendation of seeking input from a neurosurgeon.

What has helped: chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture. I also recommend keeping as active as you are able. Walk gently on level ground; it helps to tone and relax the muscles in your pelvic area. Really supportive shoes help me stay comfortable.

Keep positive as you can. It can be very discouraging to be in pain and this is an injury that takes much time to heal. Do you have supportive friends and colleagues? Any spiritual guidance you have access to helps to see whatever positive may arise from this situation. I'm trying to get into Palliative care nursing (I know something about chronic pain now!)

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

i had an l5-s1 disc rupture, and experienced the sciatic pain described up-thread. i was off work for six months -- fortunately had good disability. then i had surgery (by an orthopedic surgeon) and did fine. i've been back to work for over two years. i work in the icu, not the or, so possibly more lifting than you . . . good luck with whatever you end up doing. i'm sorry you have to go through this!

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