While At first glance the dental profession may not seem physically demanding, surprisingly many in the dentistry field experience physical discomfort. In fact, a recent research journal study reveals a large majority of those employed in this vocation experience ongoing pain. The purpose of this article is to explain what conditions specifically affect those in dentistry and what can be done to help alleviate their maladies.
The March 2017 Journal of Back in Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation published a research study in which an analysis of a health questionnaire was completed by dentists, dental assistants and dental technicians. The findings revealed that neck pain is a common complaint. While nearly 76% of the dentists, almost 91% of the dental assistants, and 40% of the dental technicians experienced neck discomfort, only 40% of those surveyed had sought care for their neck symptoms. The authors of the analysis conclude, “Considering the fact that the said discomforts affect performing both professional and every day activities, its prevention is necessary in order to avoid the consequences they carry.”
When one realizes what a dentist, an assistant or a hygienist has to do each day of work it becomes apparent why they are susceptible to injury. First, they are sitting somewhat hunched over their patient, possibly in a twisted posture for long periods all day. They are also holding their upper extremities in the same position for prolonged periods of time. This places a great strain on the neck and upper back as well as the lower back.
Recently, while at a social function, I met a female dentist who had to quit practicing her profession when she was in her early 50s because of excruciating neck and upper back pain. She told me she would have loved to continue practicing but the prolonged hours of sitting and caring for her patients while performing her duties was more than she could physically bear.
Being in the chiropractic profession myself, I treat a number of folks- both dentists and dental hygienists- for the care of their neck, mid and lower back pain. Once we alleviate their discomfort and they can perform their professional duties comfortably many come back periodically for preventative maintenance care.
Chiropractors are considered to be the “go to” specialists for common conditions of the spine. A chiropractor will have an initial evaluation with the patient and discuss the symptoms they are having. It is also helpful to know if activities of daily living of the patient are hindered. The doctor of chiropractic will also perform a physical examination to determine what is causing the pain. Many times x-rays of the spine are helpful to pinpoint the source of the problem and to rule out more serious pathology. Since chiropractors are trained to help realign and restore proper movement of the spine by giving a safe, gentle manipulation or adjustment to areas that have pinched or irritated nerves they are ideally positioned to help professionals of dentistry.