It’s well-known that work-related musculoskeletal disorders are highly prevalent among dentists. A 2009 study by Hayes in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene stated that between 64 and 93 percent of dental professionals experience musculoskeletal pain. In 2016, Leggat published an article in the international journal, Healthcare, claiming the prevalence is 85 percent among dental students.
You’ve been crouched over your patients for hours. Your hands are starting to cramp and your neck is getting a bit stiff. You don’t really have the time to stop and go get a massage so you push through the discomfort and finish delivering the necessary care. Unfortunately this is a common response to pain. It’s a negative habit that can have real physical consequences in the future.
Chronic musculoskeletal pain is also one of the leading causes for dentists to retire prematurely. Dentists have reported increased prevalence rates of chronic neck pain, shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and back pain. It is vital to avoid these problems from the beginning of our careers to avoid its ill effects later. As dental students, we concentrate on improving on our clinical work. Seldom do we concentrate on our work posture. So how can we do it?
We don’t always realize how extensively we use our hands during the day. From writing or eating to lifting groceries or working out, our hands are often our connection to the outside world. A dentist’s livelihood depends on his or her hands, especially whichever hand we consider dominant.
Students get the ergonomics lecture during the first year of dental school. But when it comes to beginning sim lab to do a crown prep, all that positioning tends to go right out the window. “I’ll work on my positioning once I get the actual dentistry down,” right? Then clinic starts and you will do anything to feel like you can actually see or to avoid indirect vision. Those future neck and back problems can get their start as early as dental school. Here are some exercise tips for countering those PSPs in office or at home.