Shoulder/back injury

  1. Hi, PCT/nursing student here. So I recently began a job on a Rehab unit which requires a lot more lifting than I am used to. Yesterday when I went home, I started having constant back and shoulder pain. It is bad enough that I am going to have to call off tomorrow and see the employee health nurse. I can't pinpoint the exact moment it happened but I know it is because of how busy my day was and how much lifting I did. I went though a short period of time last year when I missed a couple days of class with terrible back pain. I couldn't even move. I laid still in bed all day and dreaded even getting up to go to the bathroom. Saw an NP who prescribed Naproxen which did not help. Luckily, the pain subsided and was not an issue again until now.
    I am really worried that this will cause me to have to 1. Leave my position 2. Be injured to the point that I am not ready for the fall semester. Any suggestions on what to do moving forward?
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    About Nursestef2

    Joined: Jun '17; Posts: 20; Likes: 1
    Specialty: 3 year(s) of experience

    6 Comments

  3. by   caliotter3
    The one criticism that I remember well from nursing school days: I was always warned about using poor body mechanics when working with patients. After decades on the job, all I can say is, those geezer and semi-geezer nursing instructors called it straight from the hip. You have to remain acutely aware of your body position at all times. Do not be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Don't let the others walk away from you when you need help. As they say, you only have one back.
  4. by   VivaLasViejas
    You really should be seeking answers from your personal physician or nurse practitioner, not from a nursing forum where we are not allowed to offer medical advice. Your provider knows you best and can do tests such as X-rays and CT to determine the cause of your back pain.

    That being said, it is my opinion that using proper body mechanics doesn't really prevent injuries. Lifting patients, especially very large ones, requires more muscle strength than most people can handle safely. The only *safe* way to move patients is with mechanical lifts, which are often unwieldy and need at least two staff members to operate. This is why they aren't used regularly, even in facilities with no-lift policies. But they should be used for each and every lift, because as somebody else already said, we only get one back, and it has to last a lifetime.
  5. by   JKL33
    Your job description should include specific physical requirements such as amount required to be lifted; you should check your specific requirement, but for the sake of discussion let's say it's 50-60 lbs. And yet, how often do we think nothing of having only 2 nurses/techs pull a 250-lb patient up in bed without using any assistive devices? I use that as simply an example to point out that even the most simple and common things that we do, we rarely do properly.

    My back is in good shape but earlier in my career, although I personally used proper personal body mechanics, I didn't follow good principles overall (such as having enough help for the task at hand, or always using the necessary equipment). Quite some time ago the stupidity of that finally sunk in and I decided to just change my practice one day. No more doing something wrong just because it might be quicker than gathering help or using assistive devices. I simply will -not- lift in an unsafe manner any more. So if I'm asked to help with a task that I know should take 3 people, I'll say "Sure - but we need to get one more person to help us." My experience (which I admit is kind of a best case scenario) has been that the attitude has spread, and the expectations from peers to do things unsafely has decreased significantly. An unexpected bonus. If peers get on board and everyone helps each other, EVERYONE is safer.

    Recommendation #1: Do NOT lift in an unsafe manner. Just don't do it. And I do mean literally refuse to do it. Don't lift more than your job requirement (not because you're a "slacker", but because it's already written out as being the amount your *employer* thinks is reasonable!). Don't be pressured by co-workers to do things unsafely. If you are working alone a lot or in a circumstance where it is your employer that fully expects you to lift unsafely (which would likely be against written policy and your job description...) you need to talk to them about solutions to that problem or else find another position. You are not a human lifting machine (nor a human-lifting machine!)

    Rec #2: As soon as physically able (with your doctor's recommendation if necessary) - begin a core strengthening program. Get yourself stronger. This will help keep you in good shape so that you can lift reasonable amounts safely.
  6. by   Nursestef2
    You bring up a good point about the job description. I believe it said 35 lbs. Generally one person will help out, but I haven't seen any 70 lb patients! I am only 95 lbs myself, so I'm definitely hoping if I can gain some weight and do some lifting I will be able to lift a bit more. But like you said, REASONABLE amounts.
  7. by   hppygr8ful
    Quote from Nursestef2
    Hi, PCT/nursing student here. So I recently began a job on a Rehab unit which requires a lot more lifting than I am used to. Yesterday when I went home, I started having constant back and shoulder pain. It is bad enough that I am going to have to call off tomorrow and see the employee health nurse. I can't pinpoint the exact moment it happened but I know it is because of how busy my day was and how much lifting I did. I went though a short period of time last year when I missed a couple days of class with terrible back pain. I couldn't even move. I laid still in bed all day and dreaded even getting up to go to the bathroom. Saw an NP who prescribed Naproxen which did not help. Luckily, the pain subsided and was not an issue again until now.
    I am really worried that this will cause me to have to 1. Leave my position 2. Be injured to the point that I am not ready for the fall semester. Any suggestions on what to do moving forward?
    Since you do much lifting at this job I would ask if you are lifting correctly! Good lifting technique does not put strain on the back.

    Five Tips to Avoid Back Injuries in Nursing | Monster.com

    That being said I have a two year old shoulder injury that happened at home. I cannot lift with any strength using my right are so I always make sure I any lifting on the side that uses my left arm.


    Hppy
  8. by   SeasonedTech
    You can use good body mechanics and still hurt yourself and get injured. It's the repetitive motion we use lifting and bending and reaching many,many times on a daily basis that wears down our joints and our discs and can cause injury. I'm just saying that even people like me who use good body mechanics still can and do get injured. Our jobs require so much lifting etc.

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