I recently graduated from dental hygiene school in May. I have been noticing my right wrist and arm hurting randomly (I'm right handed). It's a sharp aching pain. Is this normal for new graduates? The dentist that I work for told me to just take some ibuprofen. It doesn't seem to help. What am I doing to make this pain occur?
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders progress in stages from mild to severe. It is crucial to be aware of activities that may be contributing to the discomfort not only at work but also outside of work. A major work-related musculoskeletal disorder risk factor is the repetitive motion used when providing oral hygiene services. Other contributing factors of work include how much force you use with instrumentation, the tightness of your grasp, awkward body positions, work pace and psychosocial factors. As a new graduate, you need to assess your work load and stress. Stress often causes us to tighten muscles and create tension. Does your body get rest and recovery time? Try alternating difficult and easy dental hygiene client cases. You can have a peer (another hygienist) observe your body mechanics and make changes for a more neutral and relaxed posture.
Also look at what you are doing outside of work. Do your hobbies or home duties require you to use repetitive motion (vacuuming, dusting, making dough, shoveling snow, gardening, etc.), lifting (lifting infants in car seats, picking up toddlers), and your hobbies (painting, needlework, knitting, tennis, racquetball, etc)? Do you wake up at night and notice that your dominant hand is flexed or extended due to your sleep position?
Reduce an activity that is repetitive and if symptoms do not subside always seek medical expertise for diagnosis.