Nurses are at high risk of chronic low back pain
Among all workers in the U.S., those in the health care professions are highly likely to suffer from low back pain, according to StatPearls.
Nurses have the highest rates in the profession, with about 50% of those in the U.S. reporting LBP at least once in their careers.
Activities that cause LBP
Lifting patients causes many of the LBP injuries. Leaning, lifting and twisting movements strain the lower back muscles while nurses are helping patients in and out of bed, dressing them and bathing them. Carrying medical equipment is another source of LBP, as well as falling while moving patients and prolonged sitting or standing.
When a back injury comes from a single event, it often only causes mild pain at first. However, the extent of the injury becomes more obvious over the next few days as the intensity of the pain increases. Because of the delay, nurses may have difficulty identifying the inciting incident. LBP frequently occurs due to repetitive motions, too, so there may not be a single event to point to.
The injury may affect many of the structures in the spine, including the bones, discs, muscles, ligaments and tendons. Herniated or degenerated discs, strained muscles and torn ligaments are common examples.
Raising the risks of musculoskeletal injuries are factors common to nursing careers, such as 12-hour shifts and odd hours. Nurses who work in facilities with inadequate personnel often take fewer breaks and have a workload that puts stress on them both physically and mentally.
Chronic LBP can become so distressing that an estimated 8% to 12% of nurses seek a different type of work altogether.