Nurses at High Risk for Lower Back Injuries

Nurses are incredibly susceptible to back injuries. Every day they must push, pull, lift, and lower another human being, who may or may not be assisting them in the transfer. These motions often take place in emergency situations, where they may not have time to use proper lifting techniques.

It is no surprise then that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurses have some of the highest injury rates among workers in the United States. In fact, in 2016, employees at nursing and residential care facilities suffered the highest rate of injury – 13 instances of injury for every 100 working individuals.

Among registered nurses, back injuries accounted for 5,490 of the 19,790 injuries that resulted in days away from work. That makes nearly 28 percent of all injuries to registered nurses in 2016 back injuries – by far the most common type of injury.

The lumbar region, also known as the lower back, is the most likely area to sustain an injury. The lower back region and the vertebrae and muscles that comprise it is the strongest area of the back and the most necessary for lifting, lowering, and twisting – all of which are common motions for nurses. Additionally, the lower back can suffer injuries due to repetitive motions. The muscles in the area that assist with rotation, flexibility, and strength in the lower back can also become strained or sprained. Considering the physical demands on nurses, it is hardly a surprise that back injuries are so prevalent.

Nurses are also often involved in slip and falls. They work in environments where floors can be covered with hazards resulting from around-the-clock preventative and emergency care and the fast-paced nature of hospitals create situations where slip and falls can lead to serious tailbone injuries, back strains, and sprains.

In any situation, the injury needs to be properly and fully treated so that it can fully heal. Additionally, individuals should have time away from work – without fear of termination – to fully heal. A doctor can examine the injury and help determine the best treatment options.