Ask the expert: Preventing back and foot problems in nursing

Nurse Leader Insider, September 19, 2011

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This week, Adrianne Avillion, RN, DEd, discusses strategies nurse managers can recommend to their staff to prevent back and foot pain.

Q: A lot of my nurses have been complaining about back and foot problems. Do you have any tips?

A:  Nurses seem particularly vulnerable to back, leg, and foot problems due to the physical requirements of bedside nursing. Problems in these areas increase the incidence and intensity of fatigue. What can you do to alleviate such difficulties?

  1. Wear good support hose to enhance circulation and reduce fatigue. Knee socks under pant uniforms seem to be particularly popular, but they can impede circulation as they press into the calf muscles. Instead, properly fitting support hose can help to reduce debilitating fatigue.
  2. Wear shoes that provide proper support. If you don't, that could be another source of fatigue. In addition, nurses should not wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row because shoes need time to "breathe" and dry out before being worn again.
  3. Consider the health of your feet. Corns, bunions, and other foot problems can make walking difficult and painful and can actually make you tire more quickly. Therefore, seek medical attention for any such problems as soon as possible.

Editor's note: Do you have a question for our experts? E-mail your queries to Editor Rebecca Hendren at and see your name in print next week! In the meantime, head over to our Web site and view a growing collection of advice from our experts.

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