A recent study conducted at Bradley University, Peoria, Ill, regarding musculoskeletal disorders among dentists revealed that most practitioners exceed recommended levels of muscle contraction for static postures.

The key, according to Dr Regina Pope-Ford, lead researcher of the study, may be for physicians to “mix it up” and change positions throughout the day.

According to Bradley University, Pope-Ford used a motion-tracking system and electromyography—a diagnostic procedure in which electrodes record electrical activity in muscles—to evaluate 12 dentists as they worked on a patient simulator. Procedures measured included tooth extractions, mirror checks, and cavity preparations with a hand piece. Eleven sensors monitored muscles in the dentists’ necks, backs, and shoulders, and seven tracked motion.

The research revealed dentists stand less than 10% to 15% of the time with patients. While standing may cause back disorders, sitting may result in neck injuries.

“At least three or four of the dentists I talked with said they don’t seek medical assistance when they experience discomfort or pain. Some take over-the-counter medicine or see a chiropractor, but they often feel that discomfort comes with the job,” Pope-Ford said in a released statement.

According to Bradley University, the dentists evaluated had been practicing between 2 and 40 years. “I found no correlation between the number of years of practice and the number of pain areas. Even though there is a high prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders, activities and hobbies away from work also have an effect. However, exercise, massages, and adequate breaks during the workday can serve as interventions,” Pope-Ford explained. “Mental fatigue affects physical performance, too.”

Pope-Ford presented her findings at the Conference for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists in Seattle in May 2015.