Healthcare work can be hard for your health

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Dr. Ryan Geringer
Dr. Ryan Geringer

Healthcare providers have physically demanding jobs. Nurses, nursing assistants and other direct care workers have an especially tough time. Being on your feet for 12 hours is painful in and of itself, but more problematic are chronic work-related musculoskeletal disorders.  

A high prevalence of nurses report work-disabling and functional-task-disabling pain in their lower back (80%), wrists (16%), shoulders (10%) and knees (19%). In a hospital or long-term care setting, providers spend a lot of time leaning over patient beds resulting in back pain. However, the most common source of more serious injuries involves the moving of patients or residents.

Turning immobile patients in bed, helping them to their feet and moving them from the wheelchair to the bed, are all very physically demanding tasks. Lifting and turning patients strains mainly the shoulders and back. Pivoting while moving a patient can result in painful knee injuries, as can the frequent crouching to retrieve supplies. Add to this the rise of obesity in patients and the pressures of being quick and efficient and you have a recipe for poor handling techniques.

What can be done to help these important and caring workers?  First and foremost, focus on prevention of injury. Providing proper ergonomic training to healthcare workers can stop problems before they occur.  Another great way to reduce injuries is acquiring and using mechanical lifts. These machines take the grunt work out of moving the heaviest patients and can be a lifesaver for many workers. Finally, for folks with chronic joint pain, we offer a tailored solutions.  

The first product healthcare workers can use is our Freeze Sleeve.This compression sleeve fits over aching elbows, knees or ankles to provide cold compression any time it's needed. The cold and compression works as well as over-the-counter pain killers in relieving pain and allows employees to continue to work in comfort.  

Fast Freeze is another useful product for joint and muscular pain. It's a powerful, fast working topical analgesic that can give instant relief with a simple spray. For workers with knee, ankle and elbow injuries, Pains and Strains has created specific physical therapy routines developed by our in-house physical therapist Mike Verplancke.  These regimens provide instructions via booklets and videos, and feature the included stretching straps and resistance bands to build back a full range of painless motion.

Working with patients may never become easy, but with training and support, serious injuries can be avoided. If the physical toll of working in healthcare gets to be too much, Pains and Strains is always there to help.

Ryan Geringer, D.D. is an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon and co-founder of Pains and Strains.

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