Your Nurses' Back is Hurting. A Lot.
This is not a post bashing medicine! This is not a post bashing medicine! This is not a post bashing medicine!
I think we cleared that up...
All health workers know the potential for harm while working in a hospital, from contracting harmful illnesses to dealing with unruly/violent patients, they know this is part of the job and yet, they still show up every day and put in hours of back breaking labor so that you can go home to your family in better shape than you came in. A new report executed by NPR’s Daniel Zwerdling exposes the dangers associated with very preventable injuries that occur in overwhelming numbers to the nursing population but other employees as well. The full report can be found here :
My incredible wife has been working in hospital in varying capacities for 10 years and an ICU/Emergency care nurse for over 6 years. I have heard her describe the physical demands of the job and it makes me shudder to think my small (but still really strong wife! ) is doing on a daily basis. The accounts in the NPR article sounded all to familiar to both of us and I think it's a shame that those who give so much of their time, energy and emotions are rewarded with debilitating and life altering injuries. So, I wanted to do something about it.
I have nothing new to say concerning this article because the report is thorough, exposing and unabashedly transparent. What I would like to focus on is how you can BEST protect yourself against workplace injuries. Now, as Dr. Marras states within the article “The magnitude of these forces that are on your spine are so large that the best “body mechanics” in the world are not going to keep you from getting a back problem”. So what are you to do, throw your hands up and hope for the best? Healthcare worker or otherwise, until your life becomes completely automated and without physical stress ( Ha!) I believe that the best method is PREVENTION and not REACTION. Which sounds better to you, putting out fires after the alarm goes off or building a fire resistant structure? Please answer that one correctly!
I know your parents told you that you are as unique as a snowflake and while I’m not going to disagree with momma, you probably fall into a category that puts you at risk for developing a repetitive stress aka “micro-trauma” injury. I know you don’t want to be injured and neither do I so here is my suggestions for prevention of an injury:
1. Stop doing things that you KNOW are bad for you!
Easier to say than to do but if you If you work in a hospital and need to move a patient, don’t be a hero and “save some time”. Sit at a computer for 10 hours a day with terrible posture? Watching 5 hours of TV a day while slumped over on the couch? Do you exercise like a dope? This is a general and largely sarcastic list but it has more truth in it than I (and maybe you) care to admit.
2. Start doing things that you KNOW are good for you!
You need to rotate a patient every 2 hours. Every doctor, nurse, tech and transporter knows this. So why not ask for help every 2 hours? It is unavoidable and necessary so there is no real way to get out of doing it right? If you do it every 2 hours, the nurse down the hall does it too. Partner up with everyone to create an environment where is it OK to ask for help because as the NPR article points out, you WILL injure yourself if you go it alone. If you sit at a computer all day, stand up and move around once an hour. Changing the position of your body redistributes the weight, pressure and muscle tone. I can’t really say anything about the TV addiction but let’s be honest with ourselves here, we don’t feel fantastic and limber after a TV binge do we?. If you exercise like a rookie, seek the advice of those who have been there before. Searching for something with a map is a lot more efficient than just blindly wandering in the dark. Got it?
Bottom line, if you are at risk, ignoring the problem won't save you any time, money or heartache down the road. Putting tape over the check engine light does nothing but help us to ignore the issue (until it breaks down entirely) and last time I checked, our bodies aren't due for a trade in anytime soon. Do yourself a favor and start doing the things that you know are good for you.
My next post will deal with some particulars about some of the most common injuries I have seen as a personal trainer, physical therapy assistant, biomechanist and now as a structural chiropractor. If you simply can’t wait for that moment ( I understand the excitement is palpable), shoot the office an email at email@example.com and we can talk about the best course of action for you.
All the best health!
Dr. Zach and the rest of the Foundation Team!
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Dr Zach Simkins