Physician heal thyself. While technically the moral of the proverb intends to be a criticism of hypocrisy, it is also an apt way to say that those who help others should not forget to help themselves too. And when you consider today’s topic, the expression can be taken in the most literal sense.
It’s absolutely true that far too often doctors dedicate so much of their life on the frontline in the service of others that they may neglect their own health and wellness. Sure, doctors are more likely to recognize and nip a variety of self (or colleague) prescribed illnesses in the bud but when it comes to chronic pain not caused by underlying medical conditions there is a tendency to put off seeking treatment.
We don’t want you living with pain any longer. In the same manner that your patients should receive regular checkups, you too must do the same when it comes to physical therapy. Here’s why.
Why Doctors, Physicians, and Surgeons Should Make Physical Therapy a Part of Their Normal Health and Wellness Regime
The Musculoskeletal Hazards of Being a Physician
The most commonly known occupational hazards of being a physician include psychosocial stress, radiation exposure, injuries from sharp instruments, and the risk of communicable diseases. However, less obvious musculoskeletal conditions arise because of the day to day activities of your profession. While your well-trained hand and controlled demeanor may keep you from jerking movements, falls, fractures, sprains, dislocations, and direct blows to muscle tissue, ligaments, joints, and and bones, you do run the risk of musculoskeletal disorders in other ways.
Primary causes of causes of musculoskeletal pain in physicians includes postural strain, repetitive movements, and overuse. All of these are connected to the fact that you’re called upon to maintain static postures while using precision hand and wrist movements.
All of the above is compounded by the number of hours you put in. While “on paper” most physicians work between 40 and 60 hours per week, recent data shows that nearly one-quarter of physicians work between 61 and 80 hours per week. It’s no wonder that physicians live with pain in their muscles, tendons, and nerves.
Common disorders include carpal tunnel syndrome (especially for surgeons) tendonitis, thoracic outlet syndrome, and tension neck syndrome. In addition to chronic concerns, studies show that surgeons in particular experience acute back pain as a result of awkward body positioning during operations. This issue is further affected by the use of microscopic equipment, surgical loupes and head mounted lights during procedures. In fact, the type of physician and specialist you are plays a very significant role in your risk of pain and injury. For instance, otologists commonly relate their symptoms to extensive microscopic work and prolonged periods of sitting. Ophthalmologists on the other hand, typically report severe neck, back and leg pain. The list of ailments for the respective positions within the field of medicine go on and on. All of it is elevated by working in a high-stress environment for long hours without allowing your mind and body to effectively recover, much less seek help from a professional.
You may have been able to live with and perform despite the pain of one or more of the above ailments for quite some time, but eventually it will become debilitating if action is not taken. If you want to continue to be of service to patients for years to come, you absolutely need to address existing and underlying musculoskeletal issues that you may be experiencing. Please resist the urge to self-diagnose in this case, and instead receive a comprehensive assessment from a professional physiotherapist. If you reside in the Greater Vancouver area, you may schedule a consultation at our Burnaby clinic at your earliest convenience. While you’re here to help others, we’re here to help YOU.
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