This week’s observance of National Orthopaedic Nurses Week from October 28 through November 1 calls attention to the work of nurses who care for patients with problems related to their muscles and joints.

Sponsored by the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses (NAON), the week salutes nurses who work in this field and change the lives of their patients every day. Orthopaedic nurses specialize in treating patients with musculoskeletal problems and all the associated tasks with their treatment.

Because of the wide range of issues that come with musculoskeletal development and use, these nurses may work with patients of all ages.

Orthopaedic nurses may treat patients with any of the following conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Sports injuries
  • Pediatric disorders such as osteogenesis imperfecta
  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Osteoporosis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Back pain and injury
  • Strain and resulting inflammation around tendons and joints

Nurses may diagnose and treat patients with immediate injuries in hospital or emergency department settings. They might also work with a rehabilitation or physical therapy facility to help patients regain their strength, flexibility, and full range of motion. They may work with patients who need various castings to keep bones in place and will help them manage getting around or coping with the casting restrictions.

Every nurse is an essential source of information and for someone who has a mobility-limiting injury or condition, the education provided by nurses can be a true lifesaver. Patients will learn from their nurses about how to control and manage any pain, how to prevent further injury, and what to expect during different stages of healing. If a patient has had any surgery, for example a hip replacement, they will help with plans for how to care for themselves during the healing process and progress through a faster recovery. They will even learn about how to cope with an itchy cast or gain real-life tips for soothing arthritis flare-ups.

As with virtually any nursing specialty, professionals in this nursing path are encouraged to obtain certification through the Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board. Certification keeps your knowledge and skills current so you’re able to take your experiences, combine it with the latest evidence-based practices, and give your patients the best possible care. Nurses may also continue their quest for lifelong learning with recertification, so even nurses who have obtained this credential can continue to learn more.

Seeing direct patient progress is one of the best parts of being an orthopaedic nurse. It’s especially gratifying to see a patient progress from a badly broken bone to a strong recovery. Helping a patient with a condition that causes painful joints, tendons, and muscles find exercises and treatments that can reduce pain is extremely rewarding.

If you’re an orthopaedic nurse, celebrate with your colleagues this week. Spread the word about what you do so people understand the broad scope of this nursing path—this kind of visibility helps elevate the nursing profession. If you are a nurse leader in your team, continue to offer mentorship to new nurses or those wondering if this career path would match their career goals.

 

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is a freelance writer based in Bolton, Massachusetts.
Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

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