African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences

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Incidence of work-related musculoskeletal pain among dentists in Kwa-Zulu Natal

TJ Ellapen, N Rugbeer, S Narsigan, K Pillay, S Abrahams, FA Desai, HJ van Heerden


Dentists commonly experience musculoskeletal pain during the course of their career. This study investigated the incidence and mechanism of work-related musculoskeletal pain among practising dentists in Kwa-Zulu Natal. A descriptive survey was conducted among 94 dentists, who voluntarily consented to participate in an occupational, epidemiological retrospective study. Subjects’ biographical, occupational, epidemiological and exercise history information was collected by using a validated questionnaire. All dentists in Kwa-Zulu Natal were contacted telephonically and those volunteering to participate in the study were subsequently interviewed. During the interview, subjects’ body mass and stature were measured using a portable Detecto. Subjects’ waist and hip girths were measured using an anthropometric tape measure around their anterior sacro-iliac crest (waist) and their greater trochanter (hip). In addition to collecting the anthropometric data, the dentists completed a questionnaire. The results indicated that the incidence of work-related musculoskeletal pain and discomfort among dentists was 54.26%. The most prevalent work-related musculoskeletal pain sustained by dentists was the vertebrae (49.32%), wrist (18.75%), shoulder (16.66%) and lower leg (12.5%). The mechanism of the musculoskeletal pain was attributed to the poor ergonomic work posture and work position adopted by dentists in relation to their patients. Interestingly, 45.74% of the cohort did not experience work-related musculoskeletal pain and discomfort. The dentists in the present study exercised regularly. It is concluded that vertebral musculoskeletal pain is most prevalent among dentists practising in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Key words: Musculoskeletal pain, dentists, vertebrae.

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