Surgeons suffering from ‘epidemic’ of shoulder strain

shoulder strain injuriesA new study has revealed surgeons are now suffering from more painful shoulders, arms and backs than labourers and coal miners.

Previous studies have shown an estimated four out of five surgeons experience significant pain whilst carrying out procedures. Now, the most recent findings show just how damaging work-related injuries can be for a surgeon. With over 8.9 million working days lost per year in the UK due to work-related musculoskeletal disorders, it’s important to realise that it’s not just those in industries involving heavy and physically demanding labour that are at risk of developing MSK problems.

Poor working environment and repetitive movements blamed for rise in shoulder strain injuries

The rise in shoulder strain injuries within the surgical sector is said to be down to a poor working environment. The recent study carried out by the Harvard Medical School’s Associate Professor, Dr Bernard Lee, did a meta-analysis of 21 different articles. Together, they included data from 5,828 doctors from 1974 to 2016.

It looked into the prevalence of disease in the back, neck and shoulder and the results were alarming. Approximately 17% of doctors studied, suffered with degenerative cervical spine disease. This was followed closely by shoulder rotator cuff pathology in 18% of surgeons.

Long working hours and repetitive movements are contributing to the rise in shoulder strain injuries. If these issues are not addressed, ultimately it will go on to affect the quality of patient care. Even surgeons who carry out minimally invasive procedures are starting to suffer from musculoskeletal problems. The largest study of North American surgeons, revealed a staggering 86.9% of surgeons carrying out laparoscopic surgeries suffered physical discomfort.

Understanding work-related musculoskeletal problems

It isn’t just surgeons who suffer from work-related musculoskeletal problems. Any profession which requires repetitive movements of the arm and shoulder can pose a risk of injury.

In severe cases, it is possible for workers to develop osteoarthritis; a condition which is typically associated with old age. Repetitive stress and strain placed onto the joint cartilage causes it to weaken over time, leading to the condition. It is especially common in workers who operate tools and machinery which transmit shocks and vibrations. It can also be caused by repetitive movements and awkward postures.

Even those sat working at a computer for long periods of time can develop shoulder-related injuries. Repetitive strain injuries can be caused when the tendons and muscles between the wrist and the neck are tensed up for long periods of time. Workers could also experience trapped nerves and erosion of the joints.

Can work-related shoulder injuries be avoided?

Paying attention to posture is also important in the prevention of work-related shoulder strain injuries. Headsets can prove beneficial in the prevention of shoulder strain for workers which spend a lot of time on the phone.

If a shoulder injury does occur, it is vital workers seek treatment as soon as possible. The earlier the problem is treated, the less recovery time will be required. In severe cases, where shoulder injuries have been left untreated, it can prevent them from going back to work, or at least carrying out the same type of job they did prior to the injury. If you suspect you have a work-related shoulder strain, book a consultation today to see what treatment options are available.