Frequency and Severity of Low Back Pain in Nurses

nurse looking through a window

No one works harder than nurses.  These unsung heroes of the healthcare sector spend a lot of time on their feet, making them extremely prone to low back pain.

Nurses suffer from this condition at a rate of between 40% to 97.9%, according to study conducted at the University Cukurova, in Turkey by Dr. Gursel Oztunc.  The frequency and severity of low back pain in nurses is occasioned by the stressful and physically demanding nature of the work involved, including the transfer of patients.

Low Back Pain In Nurses

Up to 85% of the world’s population will experience low back at some point in their lives and the condition is a leading reason for doctor visits and the second most common physical ailment, worldwide.

Nurses spend the most time with patients in comparison to other healthcare professionals and therefore have a much higher frequency and severity of low back pain than their fellows in the field and the general population.

This reality has a heavy cost for both nurses and the patients they serve.  Quality of life and workplace effectiveness are drastically diminished.  But the impact on society and the economy are just as severe, as nurses with low back pain are sometimes compelled to leave their jobs.


Nursing encompasses a wide range of duties and in the course of those duties, nurses are exposed to myriad risks.

Repetitive motions, postural deficiencies and the need to perform heavy lifting are just three.  Fatigue is also a common factor for low back pain in nurses, increasing the risk of trauma to the lower back.

In some areas, the absence of adequate equipment to support nursing duties (carrying and transferring patients) is a contributing factor.

And nurses tend to work long hours, supporting multiple patients, with few breaks, while standing for prolonged periods.

All these factors, a lack of professional collaboration and supportive equipment were responsible for much of the phenomenon of low back pain in nurses.

Unsung.  Unsupported

Most of us have experienced nursing, whether for vaccinations at school, or when hospitalized.  We all know these hardworking professionals are under-appreciated.

This reality leads to job dissatisfaction but there are many factors which contribute to it.  Long hours with few opportunities to relax is one.  But the culture in which nurses work tends not to be supportive.  The repetitive nature of the work, an extreme workload and the necessity to manage these challenges in silence all lead to anxiety and stress, which exacerbates low back pain in nurses.

Preventative actions like adequate exercise and proper breaks and providing supportive equipment are needed.  Nurses have as much right as any other worker to fair treatment in their places of employment.  The material recognition of this fact would do much to mitigate the frequency and severity of low back pain in nurses.

At Back & Body Medical, we know how hard nurses work.  If you’re a nursing professional with low back pain, we encourage you schedule an appointment.  Our team of clinicians is here to help.

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