ErgoPractice News – December 2017
Since 1992, it has been SurgiTel’s mission to enhance the work and lives of our clients by supporting their best working posture and alleviating compounding neck and back strains and pains. SurgiTel’s ergonomic loupes and eye-safe LED headlights have greatly improved the careers of thousands of clinicians, but they are not the only tools necessary to mitigate working pain.
Consider ergonomics like a tripod. A tripod with only two legs cannot support itself, but a three-legged tripod supports itself with ease. Ergonomic loupes are the first leg, and eye-safe LEDs are the second leg. So what do we consider the third leg of the ergonomic tripod?
SurgiTel’s loupes and lights work together with ErgoComfort seating to help you achieve and maintain the correct posture. Together these tools determine your posture, either good or bad. This combination is required to fully prevent full-body strains, pains, and injuries. With seating that allows for multiple adjustments, our stools are designed to fit both you and your work.
The Effects of Non-Ergonomic Seating
Working with seating that doesn’t support an ergonomic posture can leave the user with working pain, even while using an ergonomically fitted pair of loupes. One issue clinicians can face with poor seating is postural stress. The spinal column has several natural curves that create a smooth S-curve, distributing stress evenly throughout the muscular and skeletal structures of the back.1
This distribution is important in avoiding working pain. When the chair or stool doesn’t support ergonomic posture it can force the user to assume an extreme position, bending completely over and pushing their spine out of its natural S-curve shape into a C-curve shape (Figure 1). This unnatural posture puts the body out of balance and will cause increasing postural stress. It strains our muscles and can create long term issues with our spinal structure. Postural stress is one of the most frequently cited occupational risks, and increases the user’s risk of injury.2 Using a stool that preserves a neutral, ergonomic posture is essential to maintaining good ergonomics overall.
Sciatic nerve damage is another problem clinicians can face when they are not using ergonomic seating. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and has roots that start in the lower spine.3 Compression or pinching of these nerve roots causes sciatica. Sciatica is considered a symptom, not a diagnosis – the term literally means the patient experiences pain down their leg due to compression of the sciatic nerve.3 Slumping forward to compensate for poor equipment becomes a habit over time. As we’ve already established this forces your spine from its natural S-curve into a C-curve that strains your back. This habit can compress the sciatic nerve, causing lower back pain that radiates down the leg, and typically gets worse when standing or sitting.3 Unfortunately that means that once a clinician experiences sciatica it will likely persist throughout their career unless they change their working habits.
The ErgoComfort Seating Option
As SurgiTel is the expert on loupes and lights, RGP is the expert on ergonomic stools and chairs. In order to provide our clients with all three legs of ergonomics SurgiTel partners with RGP to offer more ergonomic solutions for your practice! RGP was founded in 1996 and introduced ergonomic seating to the United States, developing their stools after experiencing the benefits of ergonomic seating in Europe.4 Their chairs offer features designed to enhance the clinician’s ergonomics.
No matter how correct the posture, sitting in any static position for a long period of time can cause strain to the musculature. With RGP seating, the clinician has the ability to shift their posture throughout the day. If the clinician makes even a slight change in their posture a few times a day, it reduces overall strain and stress.
This can be accomplished with RGP’s unique “Active Seating” design (Figure 2a). Active seating options on the stool allow for frequent positional changes during a procedure, minimizing the risk of injury and helping the clinician maintain a neutral and supported posture.5
Waterfall seating is another important feature for ergonomic seating (Figure 2b). With this feature, the seat is designed to slope downward slightly, relieving pressure on the back of the thighs and offering support to other parts of the legs and back. Waterfall seating enables equal weight distribution during procedures and helps establish and support the correct spinal position.5
Invest in Your ErgoPractice!
Your stool is just as important to your ergonomic health as your loupes are, and working with SurgiTel to establish the three legs of ergonomics in your career and in your practice is an important investment in more than just your health. For more information, contact your local representative at www.SurgiTel.com/MyRep!
- Highsmith JM, Vertebral Column: Backbone of the Spine. SpineUniverse, 2017. https://www.spineuniverse.com/anatomy.
- Martin, Max, et al. An Introduction to Ergonomics: Risk Factors, MSDs, Approaches and Interventions. American Dental Association, 2004.
- Yeomans, Steven G. Sciatic Nerve and Sciatica. Spine-Health, 2015. https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/sciatica/sciatic-nerve-and-sciatica.
- 4 Reasons why customers choose RGP! RGP, 2017. https://rgpergo.com/pages/about-us.
- RGP Dental Addresses Ergonomic Factors Affecting Dentistry. Inside Dentistry, Vol. 5, No. 4, 2009.