Radiologists Aren’t Exercising Regularly, With Nearly 90% Suffering Shoulder, Neck Pain At Work

The job of radiologists demands that they remain confined to a chair, sitting at the workstation. New research shows that radiologists who do not exercise regularly are more susceptible to musculoskeletal injuries. Over the years, they may develop multiple complications.

After surveying over 200 radiologists from academic, private, and public hospitals across some of the large cities located in Saudi Arabia, in the Eastern Province, these findings were concluded. An enormous 88.9% claimed that they have some minor/major musculoskeletal symptoms within one year of the research, whereas an estimated 60% of radiologists who exercised once a month, or less, experienced debilitating neck pain, with a pattern similar to that of shoulder pain.

Mohammed Al Gadeeb, Co-author, with the Department of Radiology at the Bin Faisal Universal, and colleagues, noted that physical inactivity or sedentary work-life among radiologists has now grown more worrisome besides technological advancement.

The authors wrote, “Our study demonstrated that a high proportion of radiologists did not engage in regular physical activity and did not exercise even once a week. This is aggravated by the fact that the practice of clinical radiology has become more sedentary in the PACS era, potentially leading to negative effects on the general health of radiologists.”

To conclude, Gadeeb and the team sent a survey online requesting demographic characteristics together with the frequency and type of exercises that radiologists performed. The survey was conducted back in April 2019, which evaluated work-related musculoskeletal issues and discomfort, as per the Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire.

198 radiologists participated in the survey – 111 males and 87 females, with the majority (71.2%) being under 40 years of age.

A sizable fraction of respondents (37.9%) did some kind of physical exercise daily, while 27.8% exercises once a week, and the remaining 22.7% did not train at all. More male participants completed their weekly workouts when compared to females – 74.8% compared to 51.7%, according to the authors. Walking was considered the most popular of all activities, whereas stretching as well as running were the closest contenders.

Besides an overwhelming number of participants – 88.9% – claiming to be experiencing musculoskeletal symptoms, almost 30% said that the pain prevented them from completing their workouts, be it any type. Their symptoms correlated with the frequency of exercises, as 45.8& monthly and 32.8% weekly trainers reported restricting pain in the neck, respectively. The same was the case with shoulder discomfort, according to the group.

In light of the findings, the team headed by Gadeeb highlighted that regular exercise and workout is very important for radiologists in both on-the-clock time and off-hours. They also noted that one study revealed how the treadmill workstation reduced interpretation times but did not affect pulmonary nodule detection on the results of CT scans. They further added that standing radiology desks must be considered.

The authors concluded by saying, “Given the magnitude of physical inactivity among radiologists, the use of such workstations should be promoted which may mitigate the health risks associated with sedentary work.”

Background Research

Innovation in technology and medical science has affected different aspects of our life. It has remarkably transformed many fields of work too. Nevertheless, these developments have encouraged sedentary behavior, and healthcare and medication are no exception.

Over a few decades, we have witnessed remarkable development in clinical radiology with the introduction of EMR and PACS. The smooth transition from a regular hard-copy film to PACS has helped clinicians to access radiological reports and images readily, from anywhere. This development boosted efficiency and productivity, but it has certain innate drawbacks. More and more radiologists are spending long hours sitting on the chair and in front of their laptop screens, examining and analyzing medical images. As a result, sedentary behavior increases and so does physical inactivity.

Strong evidence suggests that any form of physical activity has positive effects on our health. It includes prevention as well as management of diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and some cancers. Comparatively, physical inactivity that is prevalent all over the world is common in an estimated 20% of the population – and it is associated with an array of negative consequences like increased mortality.

In 2016, a meta-analysis was conducted with more than 1 million participants, which showed that daily sitting time of more than 8 hours is associated with increased mortality. Specifically, prolonged hours of sitting is a single risk factor associated with mortality.

Musculoskeletal symptoms may be common in the world. Such complaints are similar to discomfort associated with physical inactivity, which could have a significant negative effect on health. Some cross-sectional studies in the past examined the connection between musculoskeletal symptoms and sedentary behaviors. These studies also identified the relationship between the lack of activity and a higher incidence of musculoskeletal signs and symptoms.

Moreover, sedentary behavior has also increased among healthcare professionals, especially radiologists, since PACS was introduced. Thus, it put the group at probable risk of certain musculoskeletal complaints.

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