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A Nurses Guide to Back Pain

It's hard not to feel upset, sad, disappointed or frustrated when someone you love or care for is in pain or needs your help. We know that as nurses and carers, you feel this more than anyone. However, nursing or caring for someone and their problems shouldn't mean sacrificing your own health in return. So we've put together for you a Nurse's Guide to Back Pain. We're going to look at how the pain begins, what happens after that, where degeneration comes from, what your body might be telling you plus the options moving forward.

nurse with back pain

How back pain can begin:

In chiropractic, we talk about something called micro-trauma. Commonly most people know what a trauma is, but when you ask them and talk about a micro-trauma, they often look a little confused. Micro-trauma is a same thing happening repetitiously over and over again, that causes some sort of insult or injurty bit by bit to the body.

How it is caused:

  • For a nurse or a carer this can be repeating the same pattern of movement whilst at work, for example your rigid body position when bending to help a client or a patient. Obviously, you are also on your feet for extended periods of time which will slowly cause your discs to become compressed, and it can also cause misalignment of the lower back spinal bones or pelvis.

  • A common 'micro-trauma' is a poor sleeping position. The average person sleeps anywhere from five to eight hours a night. If those eight hours are spent in a poor position, this will cause repetitious, insult and injury to the spine. The best positions for sleeping are on your side or on your back. If you find yourself regularly sleeping on your stomach, there is no support for your low back. Plus your neck is usually turned so you can breathe, which places a lot of pressure on your chest and your leg and shoulder can also be in awkward positions. Take a note of your sleeping position tonight and see if you can modify it to take the pressure off your spine.

  • Another common way you can experience micro trauma (and this isn't just for nurses and carers but it's for everyone) is in your hobbies. Regularly we see patients who have spent the whole day gardening, (bending over weeding or planting) that present with aching low backs. Unfortunatley one of the worst positions for your low back is what we call flexion (bending over). So, if you're an avid gardener, that micro trauma of flexion can also be causing injury and insult to your low back. We also see people commonly with hobbies such as tennis or golf, coming in with a back injury. Unfortunately, with tennis and golf despite you moving around (which is good for your body), they are very asymmetrical sports. These sports through their regualr use can cause long term issues. (It's no wonder most of the top golfers have Chiropractors on their teams) Once again, this accumulation of micro traumas caused by the same patterns of movement are what produce these long-term problems.

back pain can effect golf

Degeneration and Body Signals

Once you have an established pattern of asymmetry or irregularity of movement in your body, then you will adapt to it. That adaptation can cause even more problems such as degeneration. If a problem is left long enough, isn't corrected or kept regularly corrected it will degenerate, regardless of how old you are.

There are different phases of degeneration and the further you are through these phases, the harder it is to help you. The earlier we can help someone through their phases of degeneration, the ability for us to help you increases exponentially. Essentially, the sooner you can have your problem assessed and corrected the better off you will be.

Your body will also give you other signals to let you know things may not be quite right. We call these signals 'Body Signals' in Chiropractic. Let's say you are out of alignment in your low back. Those nerves coming out of your low back bones don't just go to your low back, they also travel down into your legs and feet. These nerves from the low back also supply your bowel, bladder, and reproductive system. So, you may be out of alignment in your low back (whilst not have any back pain) but you might experience sciatica, or pins and needles or tingling or numbness or loss of strength into your legs. You may also be experiencing diarrhoea or constipation, urinary tract infections, or reproductive problems. All these symptoms are what we call body signals, your body letting you know that something isn't quite right.


So, what are your options if you have back pain?

  1. The first thing that people typically do is ignore it. Unfortunately, ignoring a problem hoping it goes away, doesn't really do anything to fix it. You just keep kicking that can down the road, the problem keeps building up, until one day you are in an even bigger crisis.

  2. Another option could be massage or physiotherapy. This is great if it's a muscle problem, and people can definately get relief through this. If it's a joint problem though, massage often will provide little or no help at all.

  3. Acupuncture is great for pain relief, and a lot of nurses and carers certainly can get a lot of relief from this treatment. We have a couple of great accupuncturists locally that have helped chronic back pain sufferers.

  4. Medication is an option that most people reach for, which can provide temporary pain relief and anti-inflammatory actions. Most of us are aware of the long-term ramifications of medication, including the negative impacts on our kidneys or liver. Additionally, depending on the type of medication you're on, it can affect multiple other areas too as well as addiction, particularly if opiods are prescribed for you.

  5. Surgery is costly, not just in finances, but in your time. Think about the time waiting for it, the procedure, the recovery, time off work. Not to mention it's costly on your mental health and the long-term impact. It is common after spinal surgery that the joint above the surgery site or the joint below the site (or even both) will deteriorate too. Obviously, the long-term outcome from this is poor. We want to prevent you from even having to consider this.

  6. Chiropractic care is both cost effective and gets great result. We are experienced and skilled in joint problems. If you are out of alignment, by correcting the joint we can also aid the muscle and nerve problems too. We get tremendous results with our nurses and carers, and in a very short time period. They experience pain relief (which positively impacts their daily activities), better movement and posture, can reduce or elminiate medication and can enjoy nursing or caring for much longer in life than they ever thought possible.

What to do from here

If you’re ready to get on top of your pain and try Chiropractic care, we look forward to designing a step-by-step solution for you. Let’s find the cause of your problems and get you back to helping your patients and doing what you love even better.

We're located at 444 David Street, Albury (opposite KFC) and we would love to see you in the office. This check-up could mean the difference between you enjoying your career or struggling through because you can't do what you need to do each day.

Give our friendly team a call today on (02) 60090999 or click the button below to secure your initial consult today.

Dr Janine Adams


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