Neck, Back & Beyond:

Preventing Pain for Peak Productivity

Detailed Course Description

MSDs (Musculoskeletal Disorders)

  • Identify signs and symptoms of MSDs most common among dental professionals
  • Learn what risk factors contribute to MSDs in dentistry
  • Physiological micro-trauma resulting from prolonged static postures and repetitive, forceful movements, including: muscle imbalances, ischemia, stiff joints, disc pressures, inflammation, muscle guarding

Positioning Guidelines

  • How to position the patient, headrest and chair to view various quadrants and tooth surfaces
  • New ergonomic guidelines for positioning the overhead light
  • Learn how to properly use ergonomic positioning aids (cushions, rolls, etc) to attain the best patient position.

Low Back Pain

  • Anatomy of the spine and discs
  • Disc pressures in various postures and implications for seated operators
  • Common low back injuries in dentistry (bulging discs, muscle strains, facet impingements)
  • Strategies for maintaining the low back curve in sitting
  • Positioning strategies: Strategies to avoid prolonged, static muscle contractions
  • Positioning for mandibular vs. maxillary instrumentation
  • Correct positioning of the assistant in 4-handed dentistry
  • Operatory layouts (including patient chair, trays, delivery systems) and related biomechanics that can lead to injury

Operator & Assistant Chairs

  • Ergonomic features of various operator and assistant chairs
  • Retrofitting an existing chair
  • Special chairs for shorter operators
  • Correct adjustment of chairs

Operatory Layout

  • How different operatory layouts can cause different musculoskeletal problems
  • Problem-solving for various operatory layouts
  • Positioning the patient chair correctly in the operatory
  • Features of the patient chair
  • Double-articulating and magnetic headrest adjsutment

Chairside Stretching

  • The benefits of stretching
  • The theory of directional stretching for dental operators
  • How to stretch safely
  • Stretches for the low back (demonstration and practice by attendees)
  • Opportunities (micro-breaks) to perform chairside stretches

Tension Neck Syndrome

  • Anatomy of the upper back, neck and head
  • Signs and symptoms of tension neck syndrome
  • Common causes of neck pain and upper back pain
  • The muscle imbalance that results from forward head posture
  • Correcting the muscle imbalance through postural awareness, positioning, stretching and exercise
  • Positioning strategies to reduce neck strain
  • Chairside stretches for the neck and upper back (demonstration and practice by attendees)


  • Various styles and manufacturers of scopes
  • What to look for in scopes
  • How to optimally adjust scopes including declination angle and working distance
  • How head tilt angle contributes to strain of neck muscles

Rotator Cuff Impingement

  • Signs and symptoms of developing rotator cuff impingement
  • Anatomy of the shoulder and related muscles
  • Biomechanics of the shoulder when lifting the arm
  • Mechanism of impingement

Trapezius Myalgia

  • Signs and symptoms of trapezius myalgia
  • Anatomy of the upper trapezius muscle
  • Treating trigger points in the upper trapezius muscle

Preventing Shoulder Disorders

  • Techniques for maintaining neutral shoulder postures while operating
  • Positioning strategies to prevent elevated arms & shoulders
  • Preventing impingement when reaching
  • Special strategies for shorter operators
  • Chairside stretches for the shoulder complex (demonstration and practice by attendees)

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  • Differentiating carpal tunnel from other similar disorders
  • Anatomy of the carpal tunnel and compression of the median nerve
  • Postural awareness to maintain neutral wrist postures
  • Factors contributing to carpal tunnel syndrome, including gloves, repetition, force, instrument diameter
  • Chairside stretches for carpal tunnel syndrome (demonstration and practice by attendees)


Fitness 101 for Dental Professionals: Secrets for Comfort and Career Longevity

Acute and Chronic Pain

  • Red flag symptoms (when to call the doctor)
  • Acute and chronic pain characteristics
  • Strategies to prevent progression of painful symptoms
  • Hot and cold therapies

Trigger Points

  • Characteristics of trigger points
  • How and why trigger points develop in dental professionals
  • Techniques to self-administer trigger point therapy (demonstration and participation)

Risk Factors Outside The Operatory

  • How sleeping postures can re-inforce poor posture in the operatory
  • Positioning for driving and working at computer stations
  • Balanced vs. unbalanced standing postures
  • Biomechanics to protect the back with lifting and household chores

Muscle Imbalances & Sports

  • The development of muscle imbalances
  • How certain sports can exacerbate or worsen existing muscle imbalances to which dental professionals are predisposed
  • Brief review of risk factors in golf, cycling, tennis and running that can worsen symptoms in dental professionals
  • How to continue the sports you love – strategies to safely continue certain recreational activities

Home Exercise Program

  • How weak postural muscles contribute to pain syndromes in dentistry
  • Methods of strength training: free weights, machines and resistance training
  • Strengthen shoulder girdle stabilizing muscles using elastic exercise band
  • Discover which exercises and gym machines can actually worsen your health....and your pain!
  • Resistance strengthening, pilates and swiss ball exercises for the postural muscles of the trunk


  • How muscles respond to stress
  • Internal stress management: Techniques for muscular tension and pain
  • External stress management: Raising the physical stress tolerance


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