Edgar Ramos Vieira, PhD, a risk assessment and musculoskeletal injury prevention researcher at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, commented that the job with the highest rate of back pain in women is nursing. Some studies conducted in different parts of the world have added evidence to this fact, showing that 57 to 77 percent of nurses suffer from back pain.
Nurse Seth-Deborah Roth, who works in special surgery, says that lifting heavy equipment and patients resulted in a sharp pain in the lumbar region. She has been suffering from this sudden twinge for the past 20 years. She feels that pushing, pulling, stretching, standing for a long time, excessive repetition and staying in the same position for a long time have all added to her woes.
This shooting pain not only affects the care takers, but all those who are under their care. With such pain, one will not be able to do justice in the service extended to the patient, especially when they need it the most. Back pain comes as a part of the job, but one need not suffer from it silently.
The highest incidence of back pain is noted amongst orthopaedic nurses and ICU nurses. They constantly turn and lift patients up when they slid towards the end or foot of the bed. Think before you lift patients, otherwise you will not be able to carry out all the routine activities without trouble. For example, you can reposition a patient on their bed by lowering the head board and using the slide sheet to adjust the position. Similarly, while turning a patient, fold the knees and hips of the patient and use their thighs as a lever to change the position. For all lateral movements, use lowering and raising mechanisms, if possible, and ensure that both surfaces are in the same height. Remember the rule of thumb– while lifting anything that is heavy, always fold your knees and use your legs to raise it. Make it a habit to do the lifting carefully.
If an object is heavier than usual, get help from others. While moving a patient, you can always ask for his/her cooperation in lifting, if they are capable of moving their body. Sometimes you may think that it is better to do it by yourself rather than get help from others, but remember that if back pain catches up with you, you will rarely be able to help others.
Apart from lifting heavy objects, there are other moves that may result in back pain – for example, twisting while helping patients, changing the position of furniture or moving tools. If you feel that too much of an effort is required to push some equipment, use an alternative method that might make it more comfortable. If you are in an awkward position, do not hold on to it for more than a second and slowly move out of the position.
One of the studies has shown a positive association between smoking and back pain. Stay clear of smoking. Obesity and being overweight also may lead to back pain. Fight the extra pounds. Melanie Kinchen, MD, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons who works in private practice in Whittier, California, says that the best way to fight back pain is to be fit. Strong core muscles will provide more control and can aid in preventing injuries. Pilates, yoga and other stretching and core-strengthening activities are the best options to prevent back pain.
If back pain persists despite all efforts, treatment may be necessary. A study shows that applying heat wrap around the lumbar region may provide some relief from the pain. Combining heat therapy with some easy lower-back exercises may help to reduce back pain for a week. If the pain is very severe, do not hesitate to see a doctor.
Resume the exercise once pain recedes. Study conducted by the researchers at Boston University School of Medicine Study has shown that those who practice yoga have a 33% reduction in pain. Janet Wise, director of education at Brotman Medical Center in Culver City, California, says that routine ab exercises helps them to alleviate the pain to a certain extent.
Stress is supposed to increase back pain, even though the reason behind it is unknown. Many nurses had flare ups during times of stress. Managing stress may be difficult as a nurse, but it is very important for improving back pain.
One of the alternative methods for preventing back pain is physical therapy. Egoscue method, a method which involves series of stretches and movements, will help in aligning all the joints. This method is based on the belief that strain on the back is caused by imbalances in the posture, and correcting them will help to alleviate the pain.
Self-hypnosis is another method to improve the situation. This is based on the concept of distracting the attention from the pain and altering the physiology of the body. Acupuncture is another alternative therapy for getting short term relief. Surgery may be the last option. Surgery seems to be the best option if you have herniated disk that causes acute pain in the leg.
Whatever the reason for it, never ignore pain. Get it treated!