This is a questionnaire survey which received responses from 323 clinicians practising otolaryngology. The grades ranged from consultants to junior doctors. It was noted that nearly half of these respondents suffered from some form of musculoskeletal pain and it highlights the interesting issue of occupational hazards which in present employment regulations and requirements cannot be taken less than seriously. The study also revealed that the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain was no different between consultants and non-consultants. This is not time-related either, contrary to what one would expect.
The occupational hazard seemed to affect individuals in all sub-specialities of otolaryngology. Most of the clinicians had undergone physiotherapy, osteopathy or chiropractic treatment. Some used analgesia and acupuncture. The most common problem was pain in the neck and back.
This has been attributed to postures adopted in the use of microscopes and endoscopies. Very few studies have been published on this account and results are similar. Useful intraoperative ergonomic tips have been mentioned to reduce the hazard. The study is limited by low response (24%) and self-reporting. It would also have been helpful to know other activities of these clinicians such as sports and hobbies. Without knowing these, the role of this profession in causing musculoskeletal pain cannot be fully assessed. However, the study is a useful pointer to ‘physician heal thyself’ and encourages further studies!