Nursing is a delightful blend of the intellectual and physical aspects of the nurse’s mind and body. Well, it isn’t too delightful, but both the mind and body are involved.
Much has been made of the mental aspects of nursing, such as charting, making decisions, and following protocols, but no one seems to mention how it takes a toll on your body. Some nurses even end up permanently disabled due to the physical side of nursing.
Every time you pull up a patient in bed, help with a transfer, or ambulate that shaky resident, you put yourself at risk for injury. In fact, studies have shown that nursing is one of the most dangerous occupations in the country.
You need to protect yourself, and you need to know which areas of your body are most susceptible. Although it is possible to hurt any part of your body, such as your shoulder or your neck, these are three of the most common physical complaints nurses can have.
Of all the physical problems that can assault a nurse, back pain is probably the worst and the most common. Unfortunately, nurses have to lift lots of weight without the benefit of mechanical equipment in most cases.
This means that strain is put on those lower back muscles, the discs rupture, and a nurse can’t even move without excruciating pain. The solution to this problem is to get mechanical lifts for every patient, but that doesn’t seem likely.
Many nurses go on workman’s comp or permanent disability due to back problems. In fact, it is one of the reasons new nurses leave the job. They can’t possibly keep up with the pain and strain that nursing puts on their back muscles. Even when lifting properly with help, the potential for back pain is very high.
Your knees are another point of vulnerability on your body. Again, knee pain is associated with lifting, but bending, squatting… and rotating can injure your knee, as well.
You don’t realize how much you use your knees until they hurt. Your knees may hurt as a direct consequence of back pain because your body is trying to compensate for the pain.
You are also told to lift with your knees, but how safe is that if your knee is already in pain? When you are bending down to pick up patients, getting a good angle on an IV insertion, or simply standing for long periods of time, your knees are possible victims of the physical side of nursing.
Not as many nurses go on disability for this problem, but it is possible. It is better to handle knee pain before it gets out of hand so that you can stay working on your unit.
Nurses are notorious for sore feet. Many commercials for foot insoles feature nurses as their target audience.
Is it any wonder that nurses have foot pain? We stand all day, we walk up and down the hallways, and we never take a break.
Foot pain usually presents in the form of plantar fasciitis, or pain that originates in the heel. It is a very complex problem that involves the ligament that spans the bottom of the foot and the stresses that it has to handle.
If you are having foot pain, see a podiatrist instead of trying to make do with over the counter shoe inserts. A podiatrist can properly diagnose you, and they often are able to make custom inserts that are far more effective than the ones you see in the store.