Nurses with back pain

“it’s ok to round your back”,

“that’s it, no need to hold it straight”,

“yep, let it round, keep breathing”,

”yep, I know it’s not what you’ve been taught, but humour me”

If you’d stood outside my cubicle while I worked with the hundreds of nurses I’ve treated over the last 10 years, you’d most likely have heard the above conversation.  Sometimes 4 or 5 times a day.

I shy away from generalisations, as I find them unhelpful.  But the nurses with back pain that I treat present with such similar movement patterns it’s almost uncanny.  I’m struggling to remember one that didn’t try to hold their back straight handling patients. Funnily, they mostly get symptom relief by allowing the back to round, and by guarding themselves less.  Maybe it’s the therapeutic alliance (you’d laugh if you’d met me), and this is not treatment advice.

The above is not meant to be an attack on nurses, far from it.  They keep coming to work with pain that would keep most away—a duty of care to be admired.  But they do seem to have worrying beliefs about patient handling. I get, however, where they come from.

In the act of trying to keep people safe in work, we’ve over sold the fear message.  But, after meeting numerous movement and handling advisors recently who get this, I think the tide is beginning to turn.  It’s a big sea though………

Dave Nolan.

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