Prevalence, Prevention, and Treatment of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders Among Microsurgeons

Ruya Zhao, Evan Rothchild, Fei Wang, David Nash, Nicolas Greige, Brittany Lala, Joseph A. Ricci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background While work related musculoskeletal disorders have been well recognized among all surgeons, and microsurgeons in particular; their prevention and treatment are presently unknown. Our study aims to define the impact of musculoskeletal ailments on microsurgeons and investigate trends in microsurgeon musculoskeletal injury treatment. Methods An electronic survey was sent to all members of the American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery. The survey solicited surgeon demographics, microsurgical volume, equipment usage, history of musculoskeletal injury, impact of injury, and interventions / treatment modalities used to address / prevent these issues. Results Of the 883 microsurgeons surveyed, 203 responded (23% response rate). The average age was 45 years (IQR 39-52 years). Most microsurgeons were male (80.8%). Musculoskeletal injury or symptoms related to microsurgery were reported by 137 respondents (67.0%). Fifty surgeons (37.9%) reported that their musculoskeletal injury had adversely affected their practice. Formal medical intervention was sought by 53 respondents (26.1%), with 17 surgeons (8.4%) undergoing surgical intervention. Self-treated was used by 127 microsurgeons (62.6%) for musculoskeletal ailments. Preventative treatments such as strength training, stretching, yoga, massages, and diet were the most beneficial, each with utilization scores of 4 out of 5. Conclusion A majority of microsurgeons experience musculoskeletal injury, and some even require surgery to treat their musculoskeletal pathology. Prophylactic practices such as strength training, stretching, yoga, massages, and diet maintenance, are the superior treatment for musculoskeletal injury. Microsurgeons should incorporate training routines in their lives as injury prophylaxis to improve their career longevity and patient care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)374-382
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of reconstructive microsurgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 24 2022


  • ergonomics
  • microsurgery
  • treatment
  • work related musculoskeletal disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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