Are You Ignoring Your Working Pain? 3 Main Issues Facing Clinicians Today

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ErgoPractice News – May 2018

SurgiTel’s mission has always been to provide clinicians with ergonomically designed vision-aid products that help them work with comfortable working postures and thus prevent pain in the neck, upper back, lower back, and shoulders.

At the recent 2018 Townie Meeting SurgiTel was invited to speak with Dr. Howard Farran on his podcast “Dentistry Uncensored” about the way improperly fitted (non-ergonomic) loupes and poorly designed LED headlights cause working pain in clinicians. In this month’s issue, we will review why many clinicians are still using non-ergonomic loupes which can promote poor neck postures, resulting in neck pain and injuries.

Why Are So Many Clinicians Using Improperly Fitted (Non-Ergonomic) Loupes?

It has been proven that poor neck posture can develop pain and injuries (Figure 1A). According to ACS Surgery News, 92.3% of clinicians experience working pain, and most of these reported pain is neck/back and musculoskeletal.1 Although the use of non-ergonomic loupes is the main cause of chronic neck pain, many clinicians still use them. Why is this? There are a few main reasons non-ergonomic loupes are still accepted as ergonomic:

  1. Industry safety regulations focus on the health and comfort of patients and health care workers, but not on the personal tools clinicians use every day: these tools include their loupes, LED headlights, and seating. Unfortunately, there are no ergonomic and safety standards for these tools, so many non-ergonomic loupes have been marketed as ergonomic.
  2. Poor management of working pain created by non-ergonomic loupes. We have spoken with many clinicians who blamed a bad night’s sleep or years-old sports injuries for their constant neck pain. We hear stories every day of clinicians treating their symptoms instead of examining their working posture and finding ergonomic loupes that support a comfortable neck posture.
  3. Dental, medical, and veterinary professionals assume pain is part of the job. Accepting working pain as an inevitable part of working can result in permanent injury or force clinicians to leave their careers permanently.
  4. There is a lack of information about ergonomics. Only recently have educational programs begun incorporating ergonomic education into their lesson plans, so there are generations of clinical professionals learning about the dangers of improperly fitted loupes only after they develop a physical problem. Working pain can take five (5) to ten (10) years to develop, so without proper preventative education, clinicians are at risk every day of developing debilitating working pain and injuries due to the use of non-ergonomic loupes.

Ergonomic researchers have found that tilting your head more than 20° to 25° forward causes strain on the neck and back.2 Using improperly fitted loupes (Figure 1A) that force the clinician to tilt their head more than 25° forward equals 40-pounds of strain on the neck, and this stress grows more as the head is tilted.3

SurgiTel has developed a product family that strives to eliminate working pain by utilizing MultiPoint Ergonomics™ (Figure 1B). With MultiPoint Ergonomics™ loupes clinicians are able to sit comfortably upright, protecting their back from strains throughout a long workday, and keep their head tilt within a safe range.

Other Safety Issues Many Clinicians Are Facing

The first safety issue is one that many clinicians are not aware of – blue light hazard as a result of using LED headlights. Many LED headlights on the market have dangerously high blue-light components, which is a result of unbalanced spectral bands.4 Unbalanced LEDs peak in intensity in the blue spectral band, leaving the clinician’s eyes vulnerable to damaging blue light. When magnified through loupes, these cool blue LEDs can result in retinal damage and early-onset macular degeneration.4

All SurgiTel LED headlights feature our patented multi-lens system that generates an achromatic beam. Using a multi-lens system spreads the wavelengths evenly, creating a clear and even circle of light with no hot spots or glare. An achromatic beam also results in the best color accuracy (Figure 2).

Having an achromatic beam also means that the blue spectral band and the green/red spectral band are properly balanced, protecting eyes from overexposure of blue light and limiting color temperature. An evaluation by Clinicians Report of nine major headlights found that SurgiTel LEDs have the lowest color temperature, 3,900K versus the highest at 10,000K.5

A second safety issue clinicians face is contamination in the clinical setting. Due to using no loupes or traditional loupes that force an unhealthy head tilt, many clinicians have practiced with a working distance that is much too short in order to see their target. While the main result may be ergonomic issues, short working distances also put the face, loupes, LED headlight, and other tools too close to the working area where debris and other organic material can contaminate them.

Working with SurgiTel’s MultiPoint Ergonomics™ loupes restores the natural S-curve of the spine, helping the clinician sit upright and away from their field. It has the added benefit of protecting necks and backs from compounding strain.

Vision and Ergonomics at Work

Discover how SurgiTel’s products can help you maintain a long and pain-free career. For more information, or to try in person, contact your local representative at www.surgitel.com/myrep.

References:
  1. Chitnis, Deepak. “Operating with Pain: Surgeon Workplace Injury Underrecognized.” ACS Surgery News 12.4, 2016: 1+. Print.
  2. Pulat, BM, Fundamentals of Industrial Ergonomics, Chapter 7:177. Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Press, Inc., 1992.
  3. Jolly, Jennifer. “When your tech becomes a real pain in the neck: How you can fix these 3 major health complaints.” USA Today. April 5, 2018.
  4. Stamatacos C, Harrison J, The Possible Ocular Hazards of LED Dental Illumination Applications. Journal of the Tennessee Dental Association, Vol. 93 No. 2, 2013.
  5. Clinicians Report, Cordless LED Headlamps: A Bright Idea? A Publication of CR Foundation, May 2017, www.cliniciansreport.org.