Introduction Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) affect the health, productivity and careers of the working population. Disorders of the musculoskeletal system are some of the most common occupational diseases and injuries. Dental technicians are at risk of MSDs as much as other members of the dental professionals as a result of their daily activities which are labour intensive and involve manual work. The risk factors for MSDs among dental professionals are multifactorial.
Methods Quantitative research using a cross sectional correlational survey design was adopted. A purposive sample of 79 technicians was used with 72 valid questionnaires available for analysis. A modified Nordic musculoskeletal questionnaire was used to collect data. Statistical analysis, using SPSS 23 included frequencies, chi square test of independence, independent samples t-test and Pearson’s correlation.
Result The 12 month prevalence of MSDs for dental technicians in South Africa was high (90%). For the different body regions, the prevalence ranged from 59.7%–68.1% and the body parts commonly affected are the neck (68.1%), shoulders (59.7%), wrists/hands (68.1%), upper back (68.1%) and lower back (68.1%). Factors that were identified to be strongly associated with MSDs among dental technicians in South Africa are age, years of practice, standing and vibration.
Discussion Studies show that there is a high prevalence of MSDs among dental professionals all over the world, which is related to their work environment, individual characteristics of the worker and the ergonomics of dental practice. There are many opportunities to assist dental professionals, particularly the dental technicians, to maintain optimal health during the course of their career. This could be done through improved occupational health practice, education on risk factors for MSDs, adjustment of the work environment and wellness maintenance. These measures will improve the quality of life, and ensure that older technicians do not leave the profession due to occupational injuries.
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