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Any Nurses With Low Back Pain?

Good evening all,

I am 20-years-old and I am currently in my second year of nursing school.

A little bit of brief history: I injured myself roughly two years ago at track practice. The pain was bad enough to make me vomit, but I did not make a big deal about it, as I did not want to risk missing competitions (stupid, I know). I took a few days off of practice, but I never saw a doctor. My parents and I assumed it was a benign muscle strain. Fast-forward a year and my back pain started acting up again (after a fall on ice). I finally saw a doctor and was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis at L5/S1. My otho told me that I may want to consider a career change all things considered. Nursing is all I have ever wanted to do, and I cannot imagine doing anything else. I have done physical therapy with no avail. The only medication I take is OTC pain relief.

Anyways, now I am starting clinicals two days a week (Tues/Wed) and I am very concerned about my back. I get the worst pain when I'm on my feet for an extended period of time, or bending over for awhile.. among others. My legs also ache super badly and spasm afterwards. I know that clinicals are going to be tougher on me than others, but I am wiling to endure it.

I was wondering if anyone on here might have any suggestions for keeping the pain at bay as much as possible?

Thanks in advance :)


It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.


  • Hey there. I'm actually in a situation very similar to yours. I'm 21 and in my second semester of nursing school and dealing with chronic lower back pain. I had to drop from my program last year when my problem first started and I had to have surgery ( a discectomy/laminectomy) but I was able to recover my strength and reenter the program just this past week.
    I've had people tell me the same sort of thing, that perhaps this isn't the right career path for me given my spinal issues (spinal stenosis, multiple herniations with cord compression, & scoliosis). My neurosurgeon and primary care provider, however, did encourage me to take the chance and go for what I wanted to do. I don't want my pain to rule my life.

    I am able to handle clinicals by making sure I keep up with my pain management. For me, that means taking Ibuprofen 800mg and also Tramadol as I need it. I also stay super aware of my body mechanics during the day. Always raise that bed to waist height! Try not to bend or twist. Get help from a peer when assisting someone to ambulate or move in bed.
    If OTC meds are working for you to control the pain then that's great. If it's not then then perhaps talking to your primary care provider about pain management options would be a great place to start.

    Good luck in nursing school! I too know how stressful it can be just in itself.
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