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J Calif Dent Assoc. 2005 Feb;33(2):123-31.

Prevalence of upper extremity symptoms and disorders among dental and dental hygiene students.

Author information

1
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, USA.

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders are common among dental professionals. The natural history of these disorders is not well-understood. These disorders are more common in older workers, but the prevalence among younger workers has not been well-studied.

OBJECTIVE:

The objective of this study was to determine if dental/dental hygiene students had a similar prevalence of upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders compared to age-matched clerical workers. We hypothesize students will have a lower prevalence of upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders compared to clerical workers.

DESIGN:

This was a cross-sectional design.

SETTING:

Dental and dental hygiene students from three schools were compared to clerical workers from three locations (an insurance company and two data processing plants).

SUBJECTS:

There were 343 dental and dental hygiene students and 164 age-matched clerical workers.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Regional discomfort was the primary outcome. The secondary health outcomes were diagnoses of carpal tunnel syndrome and upper extremity tendinitis.

RESULTS:

Clerical workers had a higher prevalence of hand symptoms (62 percent vs. 20 percent), elbow symptoms (34 percent vs. 6 percent) and shoulder/neck symptoms (48 percent vs. 16 percent) and a higher prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome (2.5 percent vs. .6 percent) and upper extremity tendinitis (12 percent vs. 5 percent). The clerical workers were more obese, smoked more, exercised less frequently, and had lower educational levels and less control of their work environment.

CONCLUSIONS:

Dental and dental hygiene students have a very low prevalence of upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders. A longitudinal study is necessary to evaluate ergonomic and personal risk factors.

PMID:
15816702
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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