As a nurse, your dedication to patient care often means working long shifts without breaks and doing physically taxing and repetitive work. All this can result in persistent body aches and pains that you ignore to push through another day. While you might have come to accept these discomforts as part of the job, they could be early warning signs of repetitive strain injuries (RSI).
Untreated RSI may develop into a chronic condition
Your workplace presents you with various occupational hazards. There is the occasional exposure to disease and chemicals, attacks by violent patients and stress-related illnesses. However, one thing you might’ve realized while working is how physically demanding nursing is.
You have to lift patients, chart and type, administer medications and injections, perform CPR compressions, carry equipment, and more. These involve performing the same motions again and again or staying in awkward and uncomfortable positions for long periods. Over time, the overuse of certain parts of your body can result in RSI injuries such as:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Tennis elbow
- Trigger finger
- Lower back strain
These injuries can sneak up on you, starting as a minor discomfort that you might dismiss as tired muscles. Eventually, your aches and pains progress into RSI symptoms. You might start to notice a burning, throbbing or aching feeling, numbness, pins-and-needles or stiffness.
However, ignoring the pain won’t go away. Without proper treatment, RSI could worsen and make your job difficult to do or limit your ability to perform basic tasks.
Challenges with recovering from RSI
As a healthcare worker, you must remember to take care of your health in the same way that you take care of others. If you start to feel RSI symptoms, it may be time to obtain a diagnosis and take steps to combat your condition.
Generally, treatment for RSI requires taking a break from the activities that cause your symptoms. You may need to take time off work and medication to recover. In addition, you may qualify for workers’ compensation. This can help cover your lost wages and medical bills while you recuperate.
However, not all workplaces make it easy for employees to receive their benefits. If your employer isn’t taking your injury seriously or if your claim representative denies your claim, consider seeking legal avenues for assistance.
Remember, you cannot take care of your patients when you are hurting. Stretch, take breaks or seek medical treatment to prevent your injuries from progressing further.