Managing Back Pain While Working in the Dental Industry
Back pain is all too common in virtually all careers. Whether you’re sitting at a desk all day or leaning over a patient to assess their oral health, chances are, you’ve experienced back pain. This physical pain is more than just a nuisance. Dental professionals with regular back pain may have troubling maintaining high levels of patient care, be unhappy at work, or may need to take time off work.
According to a study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 70% of dentists report having some degree of back pain. That’s an astonishing number for healthcare professionals. Although they focus on improving the patient’s overall health, professionals tend to suffer physically while doing so.
Why Do So Many Dental Professionals Have Back Pain?
The role of dental professionals, both freelancer and non-freelancer, is to provide care and deliver treatments to patients to improve their oral health. This directly forces the professionals to lean over patients to properly see into their mouths. Subsequently, the employees’ heads become outstretched well past the rest of their body. Not only are the heads outstretched, but often the entire torso is as well.
This event creates so much torque and tension on the lower back and spine. Employees’ back muscles must then work tirelessly to support this unnatural position. This happens multiple times a day, every day. The result is an overworked, overstretched back.
How Can Dental Professionals Overcome This Issue?
If dental professionals could ensure proper posture throughout the day, they would likely never experience back pain. Unfortunately, that isn’t feasible. Providing care to patients essentially requires dental professionals to put themselves in unnatural positions. However, the rest of the time at work, practicing good posture can minimize further pain.
The shift length and the number of shifts per week change from practice to practice and employee to employee. If you’re a practice owner in today’s gig economy and you know your employees are suffering from back pain, it’s time to intervene. They may feel as though they’re being overworked. With extra shifts or extended shifts, their body may be suffering physically. Consider hiring more staff and reducing the workload on your employees. This can greatly relieve stress and physical pain.
Whenever you have time between seeing patients, take some time to yourself. If sitting down helps you, find a chair, and take a seat. If all you need to do is take a few minutes to roll your shoulders out, do that! Whatever you find helps your back pain, do it throughout the day as much as possible.
Shop for New Equipment
Employees have always dealt with poor posture and back pain. To combat this, companies began making office equipment that acts to support individuals’ backs. In dental offices, dentists, hygienists, and nurses use various types of operator stools. To manage back pain, dental practices should try out various types of operator stools. Most come customizable and can be fitted to the height and body of each individual. Find stools that support lower backs, offer adjustability, and are the correct size for each employee.
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