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How To Prevent Back Pain When You’re A Family Caregiver

How To Prevent Back Pain When You’re A Family Caregiver

Why Is An Ergonomic Posture For Caregiving Important?

This isn’t the first time we’ve banged on about “look after your back” here at iNightingale. And, I can assure you, it will not be the last.

The fact is nurses and hospital workers are famous for having bad backs. In our experience, there are few nurses that don’t complain of lower back pain. And what is unbelievable is that every single one of us has had extensive training. We’re trained so frequently that we actually stop listening! So, how will you manage at home with no Nurse Educators flying around pointing out your poor technique and lacking ergonomic posture for patient lifting?

There are many respected researchers out there who have made this point in peer-reviewed journals. A Canadian group of researchers in 2011 sought to identify a relationship simply between pain and caregiver. They also wanted to know if there was a correlation between pain, caregiver burden and depression. Did they find that where there is physical pain as a result of caregiving, then in turn, there was in increase in feelings of depression and caregiver burden? Yep. They did.

Of course, this is directly related to the care recipients’ dependancy. Many studies have proven that the greater the caree’s dependancy, then the greater the physical strain on the caregiver. There is nothing you can do to fix that. But there is plenty you can do to reduce it and mitigate risks.

If we look at other studies by comparison, we can see what researchers have looked at, what happens to occupational caregivers, what pain they experience and how to prevent it.

For example, one study looked at 16 occupational caregivers in a nursing home. They found that 15 out of the 16 experienced musculoskeletal pain. 8 had lower back pain. How did the researchers suggest that this could be fixed or prevented? Simply be implementing ergonomic posture for lifting and muscle strengthening.

Shannon L. Jones MA, Heather D. Hadjistavropoulos PhD, Jennifer A. Janzen MA, Thomas Hadjistavropoulos PhD (2011) “Relation of Pain and Caregiver Burden in Informal Older Adult Caregiver” Pain Medicine 12 (1) 51-58
Ribeiro, Sânzia Bezerra1, Cárdia, Maria Claudia Gatto2, Almeida, Lais Cristina3 (2012) “Biomechanical and organizational risk and prevalence of low back pain in the old adults caregivers of a nursing home in Joao Pessoa” Work 41: 1933-1939.
Pinquart, Martin; Silvia Sörensen (2007) “Correlates of Physical Health of Informal Caregivers: A Meta-Analysis” The Journals of Gerontology62(2): 126-37.
Nic Nash-Arnold has been nursing for twenty years. She has nursed thousands of patients, mainly in the operating theatre. Nicole has worked in both public and private hospitals in Queensland. Ten years ago, she left the “coal face” of nursing and moved into a Nurse Educator role and then a series of senior and executive hospital administration roles. Nic has always believed in the empowerment with education. That might be empowering nurses to provide better care or patients to take better care, but education is always the centre of the solution. Google 

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