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Occupational back pain: top tips for looking after your back

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A worrying trend of dental students suffering from neck and back pain has been uncovered by researchers from KCL Dental Institute: read their paper in the BDJ.

In dentistry, we know that it's often a problem for those who have been practising for many years, and in some cases, the problem has forced practitioners into early retirement.

But it's very concerning that students appear to be reporting persistent issues with pain too.

Here are our top five tips for looking after your back:

  1. Think about your posture: it's really important to maintain correct posture

  2. Don't strain your neck: use loupes and adequate lighting to allow a closer field of vision and avoid putting pressure on your neck by excessive leaning forward
  3. Take a break: we know you are under pressure to get though those UDAs, but try to take regular breaks, and especially in between long and difficult cases.
  4. Where are your elbows?: Your elbows should be at a ninety degree or less flexion, so you should position your patient's head at a level that allows you to access the mouth whilst holding your shoulders in a relaxed and neutral position.
  5. Keep fit for work: Regular exercise will help you maintain the mobility and flexibility of your joints. Swimming, aerobics and Pilates are all really good for keeping joints flexible and strengthening your muscles.

If you are experiencing acute periods of back pain or persistent pain, do go and see your GP – as with all things in regards to your health, prevention is far better than cure.

Want to know more?

BDA members can access our advice section on occupational back pain, featuring leading lecturer and writer on working posture Ellis Paul's, advice on the causes, how to take steps to prevent and when to seek further treatment.

About the BDA

We support dentists at all stages of their careers. Our advice and resources are specifically tailored to dentists working in the variety of settings across the UK and are developed by leading specialists in the field.

Page last updated 9 September 2016