Shoulders and Neck pain in Nurses

Another type of musculoskeletal injury reported by nurses and other direct patient care workers. Occurs in the shoulders and neck area. The shoulder is the most moveable joint in the body and is inherently unstable. It is easily injured by impact or simple overuse.

Angie, LVN: "It was the kind of pain that I couldn’t ignore anymore and I began to notice that at work every day because I was doing repetitive behaviours at work. I was laying over a rocking chair, helping Moms with breastfeeding or I was leaning over the bed and trying to help Moms in a really quiet static cold and so the leaning forward and extending my arm out every day would cause my shoulder to ache."

The shoulder joint includes three bones; the clavicle or collar bone, the scapula or shoulder blade and the humerus (the upper arm bone). The bones of the shoulder are held together with tendons and ligaments providing additional strength and stability. The rotator cuff is a unique structure in the shoulder that is formed by four tendons. These four tendons attach to four muscles that help keep the shoulder stabilized in the socket or glenoid and help rotate the upper arm inward and outward. If the rotator cuff is torn and is not repaired a type of wear and tear arthritis of the shoulder can develop over time.

 Injuries may occur due to normal use and over extended use of the shoulder during patient handling activities. The mechanism of injury results from the rotator cuff sliding between the humeral head and the acromion as the arm is raised. As the sliding occurs over and over, the rotator cuff tendons will often be pinched. This pinching is called; impingement. Over time, impingement may lead to damage and weakening of the rotator cuff tendons. During the natural human ageing process, shoulder tendons become weaker and blood supplied to the tendons diminishes, this affects the recovery and healing process.