Repetitive Musculoskeletal Injuries: A Survey Of Female Adult Reconstruction Surgeons

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Journal of Arthroplasty


Background: Occupational injuries are a prevalent and costly problem for orthopedic surgeons, especially arthroplasty surgeons performing physically demanding and repetitive tasks. The purpose of this study was to characterize occupational musculoskeletal injuries in female adult reconstruction surgeons. Methods: A prospective survey about workplace musculoskeletal injuries was distributed to female attending adult reconstruction surgeons in May 2020. Participants were identified using subspecialty membership data, social media, and personal contacts. Results were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Results: Of the total 63 female arthroplasty surgeons who responded, 65.1% were 30-45 year old, and 42.9% were within 5 years of practice, 68.3% sustained an occupational musculoskeletal injury, most commonly forearm/wrist/hand (79.1%), shoulder (48.8%), and low back (44.2%); 10.0% of reported occupational injuries not related to pregnancy resulted in the surgeon requiring time off work, while 48.2% required temporary modifications of job performance, and 10.9% required surgical treatment. Of the injured surgeons who reported having been pregnant, 65.4% reported a workplace exacerbation of a pregnancy-related musculoskeletal condition, including low back pain (52.9%), pubic symphysis pain (35.3%), and carpal tunnel syndrome (29.4%). Conclusion: A total of 68.3% of female arthroplasty surgeons reported occupational musculoskeletal injuries, predominately forearm/wrist/hand, with a portion of those requiring modifications of job performance. Musculoskeletal injuries may be mitigated by performing repetitive tasks ergonomically, correcting posture, using appropriately sized instrumentation, and using automated or lighter instruments, to potentially avoid modifications to job performance, time off work, or even surgical procedures. Further studies should investigate factors that contribute to injuries in arthroplasty surgeons and how they can be prevented.

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