Nursing is more than a job. It is a career and a vocation to which people often devote their entire lives. They work long, demanding shifts. They complete continuing education requirements for as long as they retain their licenses.
Overall, nurses often commit years of their lives to developing their careers and often put patient care above their personal needs. All of that effort could evaporate in a moment if a nurse injures their back caring for patients. Back injuries can limit a nurse’s ability to care for patients or retain full-time employment.
Debilitating back injuries are a major concern in the nursing profession. How can nurses reduce their risk of going weeks away from work or ending their careers prematurely due to back injuries?
Learn proper lifting mechanics
Body mechanics are crucial to safe lifting. When people lift with their spine at an angle or use their core strength to lift something heavy, they may overexert the muscles in their backs and suffer major injuries as a result. Keeping the spine straight and using the legs to do the actual lifting work is of the utmost importance when lifting a patient.
Respect personal limits
Many nurses feel a sense of pressure to provide timely patient care, especially if someone falls. They may also rush to help when someone requires assistance with performing daily care tasks, like bathroom routines. Nurses may injure themselves because they lift someone who is too heavy given their capabilities. Nurses who wait for help or use specialized mechanical lifts can significantly reduce the likelihood of a back injury related to patient care.
Don’t ignore signs of injury
One of the worst things a nurse with a minor back injury can do is to ignore their early symptoms of pain, decreased strength and reduced range of motion. Those mistakes could potentially lead to worsening symptoms that may culminate in permanent, debilitating injuries. Any nurse experiencing pain while doing their job should relate that fact to their employer. They may require workers’ compensation benefits to pay for medical treatment or cover their lost wages as they rest and allow their back injury to heal.
Accounting for known workplace safety hazards, like back injuries, may help nurses practice their chosen profession for as long as possible while safeguarding their health and well-being in the process.