Working as a nurse can be a rewarding career. However, most days you probably go home with a backache as your reward. Standing for long periods of time, bending, stooping and lifting all put a strain on your back that can lead to serious injury.
Some nurses are fortunate to work in hospitals with state-of-the-art equipment for lifting and moving patients. Nevertheless, more nurses strain their backs on the job than construction workers or stock handlers. In fact, nurses rank fifth on the list of workers most prone to back-related injuries.
Your back is not invincible
Even if you keep yourself in good physical condition and wear the most comfortable shoes, you know that every shift presents opportunities to strain or sprain your back. If you work in a high-stress department, such as an emergency room, your danger may be even higher because of the fast-pace of the care you give. The most common motions that put your back at risk include:
- Improperly lifting a patient
- Improperly transferring a patient from a wheelchair to a bed or other surface
- Twisting to help a patient from a lying to a sitting position
- Suddenly catching a patient who is falling
You may have been trained on safe ways to carry out these activities, such as using your legs to lift and keeping your patient close to your midsection. You may also be encouraged to use transfer boards or to call another nurse to assist you. However, this is not always possible, and in some cases, you may have to react in a fraction of a second.
Dealing with the pain
Despite the frequency of back injuries among nurses, many find it difficult convincing their employers or the insurance company of the severity of their injuries. While you suffer with increasing back pain, the insurance companies may be looking for ways to save money. This may mean cutting off your benefits before you are well enough to return to work, delaying your benefits while they seek further verification of your injury or even denying your claim altogether.
A skilled attorney with success helping nurses and other injured workers can advocate for you and make sure you receive the maximum benefits you deserve for your injury. This includes payment for your medical bills and lost wages from the time you miss at work. Unlike many nurses who leave the profession after a back injury, with proper medical treatment, you may be able to return to work and continue helping others in your chosen career.