Preventing work-related musculoskeletal injuries among oral and maxillofacial surgeons

Julie A. Chavez, Yoon-Sung Nam, Adam Schwartz, Doug Demoulin, James Q. Swift, Chuck Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Oral and maxillofacial surgeons (OMS) are continually required to adjust position and posture to access the limited surgical field in and around the head and neck, oral cavity, and oropharynx. Very limited data exists that quantifies the burden of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) among OMS. OBJECTIVE: This exploratory study seeks to address these literature gaps by assessing the prevalence of MSD among OMS. METHOD: A 12-question survey was designed to investigate the prevalence of MSD for OMS, including residents in training, actively practicing surgeons, and retired surgeons. Seventy-six surveys were distributed and completed in person by surgeons attending professional conferences from September 2018-September 2019. Survey questions included the Baker-Wong Faces pain scale, years in practice, number of hours worked per week, job tenure, pain attributable to work, and age. The Nordic scale identified and delineated anatomic site of musculoskeletal complaints, duration and treatment sought. RESULTS: The most frequently cited sources and locations of pain attributable to occupation were shoulders, neck, and lower back. The risk of MSD symptoms was relatively two-fold [PR = 2.54, 95% CI = 0.90, 7.22] among OMS in practice for more than ten years compared to those in practice less than ten years. After adjusting for age and hours worked per week as potential confounders, the risk of MSD symptoms was higher among OMS in practice for more than ten years compared to those with less than ten years of experience, despite no statistically significant association. CONCLUSION: OMS are impacted by a high prevalence of MSD. The neck, shoulder, and lower back are the most frequently affected with discomfort and pain. This study found that practicing oral and maxillofacial surgery for more than 10 years is a potential risk factor for experiencing MSD. Keywords: Occupational pain, surgical ergonomics, work-related injuries, oral surgery, occupational injury prevention, return to work, workplace health promotion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-249
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 - IOS Press. All rights reserved.


  • occupational injury
  • Oral surgery
  • repetitive strain injury
  • surgical ergonomics

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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