Back pain... the abysmal side effect of nursing

Nurses Stress 101

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Hey everyone!

What do you do to combat back pain?

I’m 37 and it seems over the last few years it’s gotten worse.  I do have a special needs son who we have to lift sometimes for his care.  I think also being tall (5’11”) as a woman and in nursing many things aren’t adjusted to my height. 
Appreciate any and all suggestions.  ☺️

Emergent, RN

4,240 Posts

Specializes in ER.

Stay in shape, not only a healthy weight but staying limber and strong. 

Modern society produces flabby, out of shape people because of labor-saving luxuries. Also, our success with food production has made us fat. 

So, it takes almost a counterculture approach to actually stay in shape and prevent these problems. 

JKL33

6,760 Posts

Use good body mechanics at all times, whether at home or at work.

At work, insist upon not functioning as a "people mover" without adequate help. A good rule of thumb is found in your job description/requirements, which will list the amount of weight you are expected to be able to lift. Note that it doesn't say 300, 400, or 500+ pounds; it probably says either 50 or 75#.  Hold people to it. Refuse to function in an unsafe manner with regard to performing the feats of physical prowess expected by your employer.

Agree with @Emergent as far as keeping yourself in good shape the best you can.

Specializes in Telemetry, Primary Care.

The things mentioned above are definitely important, but also pay attention to the little things at work. Quite often do I help others reposition and pull up patients yet the bed is raised high enough. Sometimes people (including myself, I'm guilty of this) don't raise the bed even for petite, light patients. Over time, even the smallest incorrect body mechanic will eventually take it's toll.

Also, always use the Trendelenburg position (not all the way back of course) when attempting to pull up patients. Gravity works wonders, and of course, do it on appropriate patients.

JadedCPN, BSN, RN

1,476 Posts

Specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU.
27 minutes ago, barcode120x said:

The things mentioned above are definitely important, but also pay attention to the little things at work. Quite often do I help others reposition and pull up patients yet the bed is raised high enough. Sometimes people (including myself, I'm guilty of this) don't raise the bed even for petite, light patients. Over time, even the smallest incorrect body mechanic will eventually take it's toll.

Also, always use the Trendelenburg position (not all the way back of course) when attempting to pull up patients. Gravity works wonders, and of course, do it on appropriate patients.

This is basically what I was going to say. I am surprised by how many people don't raise the bed, even for a simple task. Multiply that simple task times hundreds of times a week, times all the patients you have, and all of those little bend-overs to do a simple task can really add up and cause back pain. Just like we tell parents/caregivers/family members to make sure they take care of themselves so they can help take care of the patient, we also must make sure we are taking care of ourselves as well.

Specializes in cardiac/education.
On 1/20/2021 at 3:23 PM, barcode120x said:

The things mentioned above are definitely important, but also pay attention to the little things at work. Quite often do I help others reposition and pull up patients yet the bed is raised high enough. Sometimes people (including myself, I'm guilty of this) don't raise the bed even for petite, light patients. Over time, even the smallest incorrect body mechanic will eventually take it's toll.

Also, always use the Trendelenburg position (not all the way back of course) when attempting to pull up patients. Gravity works wonders, and of course, do it on appropriate patients.

Only thing is.....how do you raise bed to appropriate height for both people assisting? I'm so short I always get screwed. LOL

Specializes in Telemetry, Primary Care.
2 hours ago, Curious1alwys said:

Only thing is.....how do you raise bed to appropriate height for both people assisting? I'm so short I always get screwed. LOL

You should put the height that is comfortable/appropriate to the shorter person. It is easier for a taller person to "lean" in for a pull-up than it is for a shorter to "stand taller" (by tippy toes) and only use arms to pull up (which is a big no!). The taller person shouldn't necessarily be "bending" over the patient, but more like should be "leaning in", as should the shorter person. Legs should be slightly spread apart. Most importantly, knees should be bent (especially for the taller person) to get to a comfortable height AND both should be tightening their core as they begin to lift/pull-up.

Don't worry I'm short too ?

 

Specializes in Mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics, PCU.

I'm not offering medical advice I'm only offering my personal experience with something that works for me. I love Biofreeze particularly the "Professional" blend that has a larger percentage of menthol and seems to give me more relief. My massage therapist told me that some of the inactive ingredients in it help with muscle relaxation. I don't know if that's true, but it sounded good ?It really helps my back and lasts for a decent amount of time. Massage therapy while expensive does help especially after strenuous shift. Unfortunately I found the pain relief to be transient and didn't last long. The single thing that has helped me more than anything though is going to a Chiropractor, I was skeptical that it would help especially when he said he could cure my diabetes ? but it did help tremendously with my pain.

Emergent makes a good point, exercise and maintainng a healthy weight are very important in managing your back pain. I'm obese and have been my whole life, but when I lose weight it does help with my overall pain level because mobility is easier.

Oh and make sure you have a good mattress! 

Specializes in cardiac/education.

MAKE SURE you strength train!! You are 37...it is super important! This is such a forgotten component. Just a couple times a week will do. Especially with your son which is likely where a lot of that back strain is coming from. Proper lift technique, weight maintenance, healthy diet, also critical. 

Specializes in cardiac/education.

Google "Mcgill Big 3". In addition to strength training, I also do these exercises a few times per week as recommended by  Dr. Stuart Mcgill. 

Ready4theOR

13 Posts

I have this concern as well!! Does anybody have specific work out to do to help with patient lifting? Certain muscles to focus on?

Mushroomprint

15 Posts

Getting a pair of shoes that fit correctly is important as well. Maybe head to your local running store and have them measure you for fit/gait/function. Having shoes that help keep your natural gait will go a long way in promoting body alignment, which may help.

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