Neck and upper back pain among eye care professionals

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Abstract

Background

Ophthalmologists and optometrists have reported a higher prevalence of neck, hand/wrist and lower back pain than family medicine physicians. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders have not previously been studied in Saudi eye care professionals.

Aims

To determine the magnitude and determinants of neck and upper back pain among eye care professionals at a tertiary hospital in Saudi Arabia in 2013.

Methods

A cross-sectional study using a close-ended questionnaire to determine the frequency of neck and back pain and its association with age, sex, weight, comorbidities, duration of professional work, history of injury and physician sub-speciality.

Results

The response rate was 82% and 165 eye care professionals participated, 70% (113) of whom reported neck and back pain. The rate was similar in ophthalmologists and allied eye care professionals and among surgical and medical ophthalmologists. The prevalence rate of neck and upper back pain was not associated with number of years in the profession, comorbidities, self-reported weight or injury. Pain appeared to be associated with reported physical discomfort during professional activities (P < 0.01) but not with mental stress. Pain was thought to be work related by 50% of participants. A lower rate of neck and upper back pain was associated with regular exercise [odds ratio = 0.5 (95% confidence interval 0.2–0.9)].

Conclusions

Neck and back pain was reported by 70% of eye care professionals. The pain was graded as mild to moderate and improved when on holidays. Regular physical exercise appeared to prevent or reduce neck and upper back pain.

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