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Posted on 02-26-2015

Nurses and Paramedics are most likely to suffer career ending back pain and injuries

I've been  chiropractor here in New York City in the SOHO, NOHO area for over 20 years. The practice I work in is multi-disciplinary, what that means is we work together, so there are chiropractors, physical therapists and medical doctors, working together to get the patient better, faster. The emphasis at our practice is on difficult to treat back pain patients. People that have herniated discs, sciatica and unresolved back pain. We also treat patients that have failed back surgery syndrome.

I recently stumbled across, on social media, an article that was published by NPR, citing a study about the prevalence of low back pain in nurses. What this study found was, despite any proper lifting techniques nurses, specifically will suffer career ending back pain, and injuries. But its obvious that this also applies to people that are paramedics, and to nurse practitioners, to anyone that's moving patients in and out of beds, or simply moving heavy loads. People in these professions will almost inevitably suffer from lower back pain. It may be that it's almost, as the article states,  inevitable, but what I found in my practice over the past 20 years treating patients is that a combination of chiropractic adjustments to keep your spinal alignment, the biomechanics sound, and core strengthening to keep your abdomen strong is a very big help.

Additionally making sure to keep your back muscles are strong means you are are progressively less likely to suffer from back pain, and if you do have a back pain incident following through with care under a chiropractor and a physical therapist will get you back to work quicker and without side-effects. One of the things that the article did not mention was that sitting contributes to poor posture and back pain. So I think a major contributor that seems to get left out here is sitting. Many people, like nurses in this case, will sit for long periods of time and then go lift a patient,  and that's a a combination, or recipe for disaster. We make it a point to address the patient's biomechanics, their spinal alignment and even their muscle tone. This big picture approach is what's necessary to prevent these injuries and people can have long years without devastating back injuries.

Traditionally when a patient, or specifically a nurse is injured the standard medical treatment starts with putting a patient patient on medication. This can sometimes make the situation worse, because then they don't have pain, and pain is essentially your body's way of letting you know something's wrong. So in effect they can have more devastating injury. Our approach of chiropractic care and physical therapy combined, is a much more more "holistic" approach. What we're looking to do is to correct underlying spinal alignment, to correct muscular imbalances, and to strengthen weak muscles. This way when the patients move there's less stress put on these very vital sensitive nerve endings and weaker muscles are developed while overworked muscles are de-loaded properly.

I often see patients come in that have already had back surgeries, without good results. Back surgeries are, or at least in my book should always be, a last resort, and only when you have exhausted all conservative measures. There is a time and place for surgery, but its often over utilized. So if you have a devastating back injury, see a chiropractor see a physical therapist, before getting a back surgery. And at my practice we even refer patients for surgery if we feel that they will not benefit from conservative, non-invasive care, or if they simply do not respond to a non-surgical multidisciplinary approach.

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