Chronic Pain in Histology

Office ergonomics has become a popular topic across various types of professions as more and more people are feeling the side effects of a full-time job indoors. Ergonomics refers to the study/practice of matching the physical capabilities of the worker to the way they do the job. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), repetitive motion injuries are the nation’s most common and costly occupational health problem. Chronic pain conditions such as arthritis, now dominate as a prevailing ailment of the American workforce, who are feeling the strain of sedentary positions, strained eyes, and repetitive motions.

Histologists are all too familiar with the pain and discomfort that can come from long hours of microtomy or a long shift cutting blocks. So how do we combat this new world threat?

Advice from fellow techs on the NSH Histology Professionals Facebook page suggest a variety of remedies ranging from massages, to physical therapy, to the best remedy of all… wine! The pain that comes from repetitive stress on your muscles may be something simple, or it could be something serious, so it should never be glossed over. There are plenty of steps histotechs can take to prevent the problem and address it after it occurs.

  • Get up and walk around if you are at one repetitive task for a long period of time. Check out NSH’s new infographic, Exercises in the Lab, for easy stretches you can do.

  • Evaluate the type of forceps you are using. Try changing to reverse grip forceps.

  • When sectioning, use your arm to make complete revolutions of the hand wheel. Do not rock the handwheel.

  • Try positioning the water bath on an L-shaped extension from the microtomy area so it can be reached by swiveling the body and the chair instead of leaning over.

  • If automation is available, use it!

  • Don’t underestimate the power of chiropractors and massage therapists. They can help relieve the tension and give you additional tips for easing the pain in your daily routine.

Interested in more ergonomics tips? Check out NSH’s workstation ergonomics infographic, available on The Block to NSH members. Or give your strained eyes a break, and just listen to this webinar on ergonomics, also available on The Block.




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