From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Back Pain in Gynecologists: Are workplace risk factors to blame?

One study says YES, that there is a higher incidence of back pain among gynecologists compared to the general public, and that specific workplace risk factors, such as awkward posture, is a likely cause.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Occupational Health, researchers L. M. Dolan and D. H. Martin of Altnagelvin Area Hospital in Northern Ireland looked at the prevalence of back pain in over 100 gynecologists. The study used a questionnaire, which received a 94% response rate to questions about location and degree of back pain.

Results showed that the prevalence of backache, which included pain arising in the thoracic and lumbosacral regions, was 72%. Fifty-three per cent of those with back pain blamed it on working in obstetrics and gynecology. Overall, 32% of gynecologists required a change of their work practice, 20% had taken time off work and 8% had required surgery.

In an interview reported by Reuters, Martin said that although his survey was confined to gynecologists in Northern Ireland, there was no reason to suspect the findings would be different elsewhere in the UK. While the study did not examine the causes of work-related backache, he said it’s likely the particular physical demands involved in gynecology that were to blame.

“What we have done is highlight a problem which we do not think is unique to Northern Ireland. I have knowledge of gynecologists elsewhere with similar problems.” And adding that, “doctors are not the best at declaring their own health problems.’

Martin said further studies examining the ergonomics of gynecology must now be carried out to pinpoint the major stresses and to improve prevention of backache.