Nurses and Musculoskeletal Injuries


Healthcare workers often suffer from musculoskeletal injuries. Nurses are considered a group of healthcare workers with the highest prevalence of work related musculoskeletal injuries. This is due to high physical demands associated with nursing like lifting, working in awkward postures, stooping and repetitive actions related to manual patient handling. Furthermore, there is often inadequate staff further increasing the risk. 


Burn out Common injuries associated with nursing include shoulder injuries, dysfunction or injury to the neck, thoracic or lumbar region. Also common are overuse injuries related to repetitive strain or stress. These are further perpetuated by psychological factors such as burnout from poor staffing, depression, increased stress, anxiety and lack of support. Interestingly, it is more common in female nurses due to insufficient time to rest and juggling a few too many balls outside of work. 

How can nurses reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries ?

There are a range of techniques to prevent musculoskeletal injuries in nurses. These can include education, equipment, better OHS policies and multi-disciplinary collaboration. There are several barriers such as time and staffing pressures that can interfere with these factors.

1. Don’t ignore the small niggly injuries

Often injuries start off small, they then start to build with repetition of aggravating factors into larger ones, becoming worse. This has a large impact of your day-to-day life and the activities outside of work that make you happy! Listen to your body, pain isn’t part of work.

2. Regular exercise & strength

Try to keep up a regular strength and/or fitness routine. This can include gym, social sports like footy, yoga, or running. These help to keep your body strong and more robust, but consistency is key here. If in doubt, go to some classes. The goal here is to keep strong, flexible and stable. See a healthcare professional to see what strength deficits can be improved. By going through positions you are commonly in, we can design some exercises to help increase resilience and strength in the vulnerable position.  

3. Optimise your work environment and workplace ergonomics.

Such as computer set up or any safety equipment you may need.

4. Good technique when lifting objects at work.

Occupational therapists can help improve the safety of nurses positions and play a role in prevention. Improve body mechanics and introduce any required measures. 

5. Reduce stress

After work activities like walking, running, or hobbies have been shown to reduce stress and improve mood. 

6. Be proactive in identifying hazards and reducing risks of injury in the workplace.
7. Encouraging patients to assist in their own transfers. Encourage patient independence and mobility.

nurse moving patient

If you’re a nurse with any niggles that keep popping, come in for an assessment. Everyone’s different so we would work to tailor something just for you that fits in with your work and home life.

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