Updated: Apr 20, 2022
Chiropractors are susceptible to work-related injuries - but which injuries should we be keeping an eye on?
Chiropractors are a unique group of health care professionals who are at risk for developing work- related musculoskeletal injuries. Diversity of daily practice imposes different physical demands on the chiropractor (Lamprecht and Padayachy , 2019).
Work-related musculoskeletal injuries (WRMSI) are a group of painful complaints involving the muscles, tendons and nerves which occurs in an occupational setting due to physical tasks carried out in normal work activities (OSHA, EU).
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According to data from a study investigating WRMSI’s in the South African Chiropractic cohort – injuries are divided into three main categories (Carless and Yelverton, 2017);
1. Acute injuries
2. Repetitive strain injuries
3. Aggravation of a previously sustained injury.
Across all 3 categories, the body regions most commonly affected were the wrist and hand, lower back and shoulder. Similar findings were reported by Hansen et al, 2018 in the Danish Chiropractic population.
A depiction of the most commonly injured body parts in practicing chiropractors in South Africa (Lamprecht and Padayachy , 2019).
Many chiropractors are predisposed to the development of musculoskeletal injuries prior to beginning their professional careers (Green, et al. 2011). Students in chiropractic college can suffer upper-extremity injuries from repetitive adjusting techniques performed before they have the necessary endurance to handle the workload or the experience to use techniques that require the minimum amount of effort (Bisiacchi and Huber, 2006).
For the practicing chiropractor, daily practice encompasses continuous application of several adjustive procedures and non-manipulative tasks - in an assortment of postures - which subject the musculoskeletal system to potentially large repetitive mechanical loads (Byfield, D. 2005).
The use of similar adjustive techniques and manoeuvres – performed on a frequent basis over time could also lead to the development of chronic overuse syndrome as the end result of accumulative stress to the chiropractor (Lorme and Naqvi, 2003).
Another risk factor is the constant lifting and re-adjusting patients on the table prior to the adjustment. By modifying their position to meet the patient’s requirements as opposed to adapting the patient’s position in line with their own needs – chiropractors mat exacerbate any MSK pain or injuries (Sunell and Maschak, 1996).
The aforementioned issues may affect a chiropractor at any point in their career. Despite that – the majority of chiropractors are reported to continue working in spite of an injury. However, this may lead a chiropractor to making either practice or physical changes. Practice changes included reducing patient volume, hiring personnel and scheduling. Physical changes included using different office equipment, selecting different techniques requiring lower force and altering their hand contacts or body position when treating patients (Howarth et al, 2020).
Achieving good adjustive skills and patient handling/instructing protocols are of benefit to both the chiropractor and the patient. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough.
So be sure to join us for the Lions Live Seminar on September 10th/11th at the Dorking Halls for 2 days of lectures, learning and practical workshops all designed to help you and the profession thrive.