Wednesday, May 29, 2019

June JADA finds more Research Needed into Musculoskeletal Care for Dental Professionals


A few years ago I was talking to someone who was involved with a physical rehabilitation clinic for patients who were suffering from spine injuries.  When he found out I was a dentist, this person asked me how my back was.  I, of course, thought that was simply because that was his focus.  However, I was way wrong about that.

It turns out that spinal injuries are the most prominent injuries that occur in dentistry.  Up to that point in my life, I had wrongly just assumed that the number one injury in dentistry was hands & wrists.  You know, carpal tunnel and that sort of thing.  I could not have been more wrong.  While those types of injuries certainly DO occur in dentistry, the number one cause of disability is neck and back injuries.

It turns out that around 65% of dentists who have to declare complete disability and retire from clinical practice do so because of neck and back injuries.  Now that I am further into my career, I’ve begun to see the affects it is having on myself as well as my colleagues who have been practicing for more than a few years now.  I can personally think of around 10 dentists that I know that have either been forced to retire or have had to reduce their clinical hours based upon neck and back injuries.  I’ve personally dealt with these issues as well although I also had a near fatal MVA in the 80s that has probably contributed to that as well.

The point of today’s post is that neck and back injuries are a serious issue in dentistry and practitioners need to be aware of them to help prevent them.  In may of my articles I’ll mention efficiency as a big advantage to the use of technology.  The efficiency that I am writing about is also something that cuts down the amount of time we spend in what I’m calling “the clinical posture” which is what really creates that problems for our spines.  Decreasing the time spent in this posture could well be one of the ways to extend your career.

The ADA is now starting to pay special attention to the ergonomics of dentistry and a recent JADA (Journal of the American Dental Association) study looks at Musculoskeletal Disorders in Dental Professionals.  Here is part of the discussion:

“Given the high prevalence of [musculoskeletal disorders] in oral health care professionals and the fact that these problems may begin to develop during the education process, early intervention is crucial for the prevention and treatment of these disorders,” the authors state. “Investigators should conduct further interventional research on the topic to provide sufficient support for oral health care professionals.”
Many professionals experience daily musculoskeletal discomfort, but they ignore it as “part of the job,” said corresponding author Shawn C. Roll, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California. However, that pain can lead to suboptimal patient care.
“Furthermore, too often, expert practitioners are forced to reduce their work hours or transition out of patient care due to an inability to continue the physical tasks because of their discomfort or injuries,” Dr. Roll said.

To read the entire post on the subject, follow this link.

To read the study, follow this link.

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