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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: an occupational hazard?

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This summary is based on the article published in the International Dental Journal: Carpal tunnel syndrome – an occupational hazard facing dentistry (October 2013)

Sagar Abichandani, Saquib Shaikh and Ramesh Nadiger

Purpose of the Review

Evaluate the comprehensive literature on carpal tunnel syndrome to discover work specific to carpal tunnel syndrome among dentists in order to determine whether there is any correlation with dentists having a higher prevalence of its occurrence.

Key Messages

  • The prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome is higher in dental professionals involved in various aspects of dental specialties.
  • Abnormal postures, including muscle imbalances, muscle necrosis, trigger points, hypomobile joints, nerve compression and spinal disk herniation or degeneration may result in serious detrimental physiological changes in the body. These changes often result in pain, injury or possible neuroskeletal disorders.
  • Procedures carried out in certain dental specialties have increased incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome (1,2):

Endodontics

Biomechanical shaping of the root canals over long hours requires repeated usage of hand-files that can
predispose a dentist to CTS.

Periodontics

Constant use of ultrasonic scalers can predispose a dentist to CTS not only because of increased vibrations and repetitive movements but also because of awkward positioning over prolonged periods.

Prosthodontics

A constant prolonged static position during tooth preparation using an air rotor hand piece can predispose to CTS.

Oral Surgery

Working on maxillary premolars involves jerky, repetitive movements with awkward positioning of the musculoskeletal system for prolonged periods; this can predispose dentists to CTS during tooth extraction.

Clinical implications

Dentists have an increased risk of carpal tunnel syndrome and precautions and care should be exercised to prevent detrimental irreversible changes occurring.

References 

  1. Valachi B, Valachi K. Mechanisms leading to musculoskeletal disorders in dentistry: Bethany. J Am Dent Assoc 2003 134, 1344–1350. 
  2. Valachi B. Musculoskeletal health of the woman dentist: distinctive interventions for a growing population. J Calif Dent Assoc 2008 36: 127–132.

 

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