Musculoskeletal Complaints Among Doctors

Bespoke Physiotherapy is a service based in London where physios Jon and Clare have gained plenty of experience managing injuries in medics which impact on their work. Clare gives us some further insights..

Workplace stress, long shifts and poor workstations have all been linked to musculoskeletal disorders so is it any wonder our medics often pull the short straw when it comes to these injuries? Sound familiar?

Of course it well known that musculoskeletal disorder are extremely common, especially in health care workers, but what about specifically the medics?

In our physiotherapy clinic we often see a range of injuries impacting medics because their roles are so variable and demanding it does not take much to knock them off course. For example, a lower limb football injury preventing them walking endlessly through ward rounds or a chronic neck complaint that makes bending over a surgical patient for hours on end mission impossible.


The most common musculoskeletal complaints we see in medics are typically neck, low back and shoulder complaints. Let’s look at these in a little more detail:

a) Neck complaints

In medics this is normally postural related tensions which are exacerbated by prolonged awkward postures and high levels of stress during their working role. The thoracic spine and base of the neck become stiff and the surrounding muscles tighten, resulting in symptoms of pain and reduced movement.

b) Low back pain

This of course affect 1 in 3 adults but medics are constantly spending long hours on their feet and hot desking around the hospital in chairs not set up appropriately. This results in high prevalence of non-specific mechanical back pain amongst medics.

c) Shoulder injuries

Shoulder impingement is the most common shoulder complaint we see in medics and occurs when the rotator cuff tendon becomes inflamed as it travels underneath the acromioclavicular joint. Medics experience pain and weakness, especially with overhead and loaded activities.

Normal tissue healing plays a large role in injury recovery, but why are medics prone to acute injuries not settling down or developing gradual persistent pain conditions?

Well a large part of this comes down to the environment and working demands often placed upon medics.


1. Ensure you seek a full musculoskeletal assessment for rapid diagnosis and clear understanding of how best to manage aggravating activities. The sooner this is completed the better, to avoid acute injuries becoming persistent pain complaints.

2. Engage in physiotherapy treatment and exercise based rehabilitation. This needs to take into account your work and life commitments to help with you keep up with the programme.

3. Adjusting your working role can be useful for a short duration to help you rest from the main aggravating activities to allow symptoms to settle. For example, pacing ward rounds, clinics and desk based working.

4. Get clued up on how best to set up your chair and desk so that when you use a work station you can quickly spend 30 seconds making it comfortable to you.

clare-henson-bowenAuthor: Clare Henson-Bowen; Co-Founder and Chartered Physiotherapist at BESPOKE PHYSIOTHERAPY, a physiotherapy service in London which specialises in working with medics for large range of acute musculoskeletal injuries and long term health conditions.

If you would like to contact them about how physiotherapy can help you, either visit the site or email at INFO@BESPOKEPHYSIOTHERAPY.CO.UK.

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