Anyone who has ever worked in nursing knows that the job holds unintentional dangers, from poking yourself with a needle to slipping on a floor that’s wet with unidentified bodily fluids. Getting a finger jammed while lowering a bedside can be just as painful as getting your foot run over by an electric wheelchair.
And no surprise to nurses—back injuries are most common. This can range from muscular pain to disk or nerve damage. The best way to protect yourself from back injury is to know the facts and arm yourself with injury prevention tips.
Here are some facts you might not know:
- Nursing has the second highest incidence of all types of non-fatal work-related injuries in the United States. This includes back injuries, sprains, strains and other musculoskeletal injuries.
- Nurses have a higher risk of sustaining a back injury at work than do construction workers, warehouse personnel, delivery goods drivers and farm workers. Considering the average weight per patient that nurses may be helping lift in and out of bed, and the awkward bending nurses must do, even to give a medication, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
- Home healthcare and community nurses have a higher rate of back pain than do hospital nurses. Home health nurses may not have the resources that hospital staff may have, including another staff member to help move or lift patients.
- The highest risk for back pain and injury among nurses is for those who work in orthopedics. Orthopedic patients who are restricted to bed often need considerable help moving about and require assistance from nurses.
For tips on protecting your back from injury, see “The nurse’s guide to preventing back pain.”