The Silent Struggle: Nurses Are Often Fighting Back Injuries

The Silent Struggle: Nurses Are Often Fighting Back InjuriesSilverman, McDonald & Friedman provides extensive guidance for injured nurses across Delaware. Our attorneys specializing in workers’ compensation, located in Wilmington, Newark, and Seaford, assist healthcare professionals in securing the compensation they deserve.

Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system, playing an important role in patient care, comfort, and recovery. Their dedication and tireless efforts are evident in every ward, clinic, and healthcare setting, where they serve as the frontline soldiers in the battle for public health. However, amidst their invaluable contributions, there exists a silent struggle that often goes unnoticed—the epidemic of back pain among nurses.

When nurses suffer from chronic back pain or injuries, it not only compromises their ability to perform their duties effectively but also leads to increased absence and, in some cases, quitting the profession entirely even with workers’ compensation benefits.

The prevalence of nurses’ back pain

Back pain has emerged as a prevalent and pervasive issue within the nursing profession. According to one study, among all healthcare workers, nurses and operating room staff bear the highest rates of lower back pain. A study investigating the one-week prevalence of lower back pain identified nurses as particularly vulnerable, with a staggering 57% reporting experiencing back pain within that time frame. Additionally, a small-scale study found that within the last year, 47% of participants, reflecting a cross-section of the nursing profession, reported having struggled with back problems.

Additionally, a separate study found that 40-50% of nurses struggle with back pain with a lifetime prevalence of 35-80%. These statistics only highlight how many people’s back pain and injuries are affecting the nursing community.

In Delaware, there are over 85,000 social assistance and healthcare workers, like nurses, as of 2022. After seeing year-over-year growth in the number of people in this career, it’s important to note that a significant number of employees will struggle with back pain at some point.

How do nurses injure their backs?

Nurses face tons of challenges that can contribute to the risk of back injuries in their demanding profession. From the routine tasks important to patient care to the varied demands of their daily responsibilities, the potential sources of strain on their backs are diverse and numerous.

Lifting and transferring patients

In the challenging field of nursing, the act of lifting and transferring patients stands out as a critical but risky task, often taking a toll on nurses’ spinal health. The need for nurses to lift and move patients is a recurrent demand part of their daily routines. Unfortunately, this routine task comes with inherent risks, and statistics shed light on the frequency and impact of such incidents.

A review of 89 studies has highlighted a causal link between nursing activities, particularly those related to patient care such as dressing and bathing, and the prevalence of low back pain. It’s a crucial insight, underscoring that the very duties essential to nursing also come with risks that affect the physical well-being of these healthcare professionals.

Extended hours on feet

Nurses also often find themselves dealing with prolonged and demanding work hours that place considerable strain on their physical well-being. The nature of their profession demands extensive periods of standing and walking, a routine that, while essential, carries potential implications for spinal health. The impact of extended hours on their feet is a noteworthy consideration, as studies consistently see a correlation between prolonged standing and heightened instances of back pain among people within a few different careers, but especially nurses.

Posture and repetitive motions

Part of the daily responsibilities of nursing involves a spectrum of tasks that often require adopting awkward postures. Whether it’s reaching for supplies, adjusting equipment, or attending to patient needs, nurses frequently find themselves in positions that, over time, can contribute to physical strain and discomfort. The nature of these postures, often dictated by the urgency and demands of patient care, can be extremely harmful in the long run.

Additionally, nurses are also confronted with the challenge of repetitive motions part of patient care. From administering medications to assisting with daily activities, the repetitive nature of these tasks can lead to cumulative stress on various muscle groups and joints. It’s important to recognize the potential harm that arises from this repetitive strain, as it can manifest in discomfort, pain, and, in more severe cases, contribute to long-term musculoskeletal issues. In fact, a musculoskeletal ailment known as repetitive strain injury (RSI) emerges as a consequence of repeated motions and the excessive use of specific body parts.

Consequences to Delaware nurses’ back injuries

As we explore the impact of back injuries on nurses, it’s also important to understand the many ways it affects their health, job stability, and the care they provide to patients.

Some of the devastating consequences of Delaware nurses’ back pain include:

  • Chronic pain and disability. Untreated back injuries pose enduring challenges for nurses, leading to chronic pain and disability that not only impacts their daily lives but also jeopardizes the sustainability of their healthcare careers.
  • Increased absence and burnout. Chronic pain, beyond the physical strain, affects the mental and emotional well-being of nurses, increasing the risk of burnout and leading to more days off due to back pain, directly impacting their work frequency.
  • Negative impact on patient care. Back pain also negatively impacts patient care, leading to potential errors and decreased efficiency due to physical limitations.

Seeking relief for a back injury at work in Delaware

Even in the aftermath of a workplace injury, workers’ compensation stands as a crucial resource, extending beyond traditional notions of accidents like slips and falls. For nurses, along with all healthcare professionals, workers’ compensation can provide support for an employee who has injured their back on the job. It typically covers medical expenses related to the injury, including doctor visits, treatments, and rehabilitation. Additionally, it may include compensation for a portion of the lost wages during the recovery period. The duration of workers’ compensation benefits varies based on the severity of the injury, but it typically aims to cover the necessary medical treatments and ensure financial assistance until the nurse can return to work or reach maximum medical improvement. The goal is to alleviate the financial burden caused by the injury and facilitate a smoother recovery process for the nurse.

If you’re a nurse who sustained a back injury while on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The team at Silverman, McDonald & Friedman wants to help. To discuss your case, reach out to our office by calling or filling out our contact form and speak with a workers’ compensation attorney located in Wilmington, Newark, or Seaford.