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Workplace repetitive use injuries commonly suffered by nurses

nurse sitting down with face in hand with worry

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an increase in nonfatal workplace injuries for nurses of 242.4% from 2019 to 2020 in California. Included in that figure are repetitive use injuries.

These injuries can be debilitating, affecting both professional performance and personal lives. Let us delve into some of the most prevalent workplace repetitive use injuries suffered by nurses.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

 Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs due to repetitive wrist movements, such as administering medications and charting. The pressure on the median nerve can lead to pain, tingling and numbness in the hand and fingers.

Rotator cuff tendonitis

Lifting and moving patients is a fundamental aspect of nursing, but it can take a toll on their shoulders. The rotator cuff tendons can become inflamed from these movements, causing pain and restricted arm mobility.

Lower back strain

Nurses spend extended periods on their feet, often needing to lift heavy objects. This can result in lower back strain, with the muscles and ligaments experiencing stress and pain.


Also known as tennis elbow, this condition happens due to the repetitive gripping of objects, such as syringes and medical instruments. This injury affects the tendons in the elbow, causing pain and limited forearm movement.

Trigger finger

Constantly gripping medical tools can cause the flexor tendons in the fingers to become inflamed. This can result in trigger finger, where the finger locks or catches when bent.

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis

Nurses often repetitively move their thumbs while providing care. This can inflame the tendons in the thumb, leading to pain and swelling at the base.

Plantar fasciitis

Long hours spent standing and walking can result in plantar fasciitis, a condition where the tissue connecting the heel to the toes becomes inflamed. This causes heel pain and discomfort.

Preventing these injuries is important for nurses to maintain their health and career longevity. Simple strategies like maintaining proper posture, using ergonomic equipment and taking regular breaks can significantly reduce the risk of repetitive use injuries.