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Mar 1, 2015
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Searched the forum, but didn't get any hits...

After a long day of clinic, my neck hurts. Sometime shoulders too, but mostly my neck around C7 to maybe C4-ish... It's gotten worse over the course of the month (I'm a recently started PGY-2). I don't feel like I'm hunching over weirdly at the slit lamp, but I must be doing something provoking because it's not getting better despite my efforts at better form and daily tylonol BID-TID. I worry that decades of this are going to leave me debilitated unless I figure out a better way ASAP.

I'm thinking of going to see a physical therapist maybe or talking to one on the floor for some tips.

I have no doubt I'm not the only one with this issue. Any advice on this??


Finally, no more "training"
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Oct 12, 2005
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Have someone spot you on the slit lamp. What you perceive as being as good posture may not be really really so. You are right to be diligently figuring out why your neck hurts. It's a big cause for ophthalmologists to file for occupational disability.

One thing is that you may not notice yourself lean your neck forwards some despite good back posture. One trick to try is to raise the patient's chair if possible so that your chair's legs can roll under the footrest. It will bring you close to the patient so you can keep your neck and body upright as much as possible.


yzarc gniog ylwolS
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Apr 25, 2005
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I got a neck pillow and I exercise a bunch to keep myself limber. Also be careful about your use of your indirect. If you lay the patient back you end up leaning around funny a lot less. Also you don't lift your arms as much. Arm lifting can cause neck/shoulder pain.

Texting and constantly staring down at your phone can also add to this burden...
If all fails I would see PT, they do help with some stretches. However before you go all out investigating... make sure to get your disability insurance :)

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Jun 19, 2010
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I'm an optometrist.

Early into my career, I slowly developed lower back pain on one side near my Kidney. I was certain I had a kidney stone. That had to be it! My father has a history of stones and so, even though I'm female, I figured I had them as well.

OK, so here's the embarrassing part!

I got into a DO (general osteopath) and told him my symptoms and my concern that I might need ultrasound to break up the stones before I was in too much pain to move. He felt around the lower back and then with his thumbs pushed in firmly on both sides and said, "Is the pain here?"

Holy Cow! He had hit the sweet spot. I nearly jumped out of the seat. He smiled and said, "You don't have kidney stones but inflammation of the sacroiliac joint." He also politely showed me where the kidneys are and they are not beneath the SI joint. He asked my profession and I told him. Then he said, "Do you take shortcuts with your hydraulic chair in order to save time?" I said, "Yeah." It's like he read my mind!!!

He said that eye professionals can develop pain in strange locations if we don't use the features of our instrumentation that are designed to do work for us. For instance, I was doing contortions while using the BIO in order to position myself for each view instead of lowering or elevating the patient into position with the chair. I started using the hydraulics on the exam chair and the SI pain disappeared fairly quickly. It slowed the exam down slightly, but i was worth not having pain at the end of the day.

He then asked permission to use me as a case study to present at a conference where he was speaking. I said yes, of course. I hope he didn't make me look too much like a complete *****. HA! Oh yes, I can see it. "The self-diagnosing optometrist."

So, my point is that you might look at what you're doing at work. You probably aren't even aware of the problem. Note how you're positioning yourself and see if it's something that easily solved. Simply lowering a seat an inch or two can make a difference, ergonomically speaking, for people who work on computers all day. It may be something as simple as that.

Hope you feel better.
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Jan 21, 2016
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My husband has been an ophthalmologist for 30 years. He makes sure to tilt his operating microscope so his head is straight erect. Also, he lifts the patients clinic chair so that he doesn't lean at the slit lamp.
Finally, he uses Bio freeze roll-on daily on his neck!
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