The reason I bring up this slightly embarrassing story is because are hundreds of things we do every day to our bodies that may put our physical work longevity at risk. As surgeons, our risk is compounded by the physical demands of wearing a headlight, looking into a small space, or standing on our feet for a 12-hour surgery. The importance of ergonomics in our field is now being recognized. A recent survey of 377 otolaryngologists from around the country reported a 64% incidence of work-related musculoskeletal symptoms. The majority of these physicians began to experience symptoms in residency and fellowship, and the neck and shoulder were the most commonly affected body areas. Despite the frequency of these complaints, only 33% of surgeons were formally taught or actively sought information on ergonomic principles. For those who had, nearly 70% experienced improvement in their symptoms (Laryngoscope. 2018;128:632–640).
The Duke University Surgery Program has now implemented a training program for their junior residents and medical students focused on proper positioning in the OR. There are also a number of expert series lectures given at the AAO–HNS annual meeting that address ergonomics specific to otolaryngology procedures, and the Internet is filled with exercises that can help you maintain good posture while standing all day. Taking these preventive measures now may have a big influence on when you decide to stop operating in the future.
Thanks again for reading and I look forward to talking soon.