Prevent Back Injury in Nurses


Compared to other occupations, nurses are among the highest at risk for musculoskeletal disorders. Lower back injuries are the most common  disorder affecting nurses. Lower back pain can be caused by a variety of problems with any of spinal muscles, nerves, bones, discs or tendons in the lumbar spine. Typically, nurses are more likely to experience back pain from a lower back muscle strain or from within the disc space itself – such as a lumbar disc herniation or lumbar degenerative disc disease. 
As we all know, we can’t completely prevent this by using proper techniques and body mechanics, still we can reduce the risk to a minimal extent. You should know certain things during lifting and moving to avoid patient and self injury.

1. Assess the situation

Know the Patient

  • Patients condition, vital signs, any drainage or IV tubes, mental status
  • How much weight patient can bear, any assistive device available

Know your abilities and limitation 

  • Health and Pregnancy status
  • Protective equipment available 

How safe is the environment

  • Electrical cords
  • Loose carpeting and slippery floor
  • Wet surface
  • Furniture, boxes and other obstacles
  • Sharp edges
  • Poor lighting

2. Prepare for the move

  • Take steps to avoid or reduce manual handling.
  • Get help if you need it ( 2 or more staff)
  • Get the equipment you need ( Lifts, hoists, sliding board, turn sheet etc.)

3. Prepare the patient

  • Explain the movement, why, how and the risks.
  • Give clear instructions
  • Ask if they have any questions
  • Get patient consent if required

4. Position and adjust the equipment properly

Adjust the bed- Raise or lower it close to your center of gravity, just below your waist level
  • Position the head of the bed up or low depends on the move
  • Keep the side rails in the desired position
  • Lock the wheels
  • Position the equipment
  • Place the wheel chair or stetcher as close to the patient a s possible
  • Align it properly
  • Adjust the handrails and foot rest
  • Lock the wheels
  • Make needed adjustments
  • Keep equiment and bed at the same height if possible
  • Make sure that the patient and helpers are properly positioned

5.Always use a proper Body Mechanics

  • Maintain your balance
  • Get a sure grip
  • Keep loads as close to your body as possible
  • Use your legs- knees bent and back straight.Lift with your legs to avoid back strain
  • Dont twist, over reach or bend forward, instead change the position of your feet
  • Encourage the patient to use his/her strength while moving

6.Use Equipment Properly

  • Use belts, Lock wheels, Put side rails etc.
For your patient’s health and safety, take precaution to protect their skin. Never drag patients, check their level of consciousness, comfort and vital signs after the move if indicated. Protect yourself by using proper body mechanics and report immediately any type of injuries. Maintain a healthy weight with helathy diet and do some simple back exercises like pelvic tilt and knee to chest rise

Pelvic Tilt

Lie flat, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Tense the stomach. Squeeze the buttocks and lift hips slightly off the floor. count up to ten and relax. Repeat

Knee- to- chest raise

Lie flat, legs straight. Grasp one knee and bring it close to chest. Count to 10. Relax. Repeat ( pull both legs at once for more result)