Even Dreamy Doctors Feel Back Pain — Here’s Why and What Can Help

Unlike Dr. Grey, Shepherd (or commonly McDreamy), Yang, and all other doctors in Grey’s Anatomy, the life of a surgeon is not a dramatic whirlwind of romance, heartbreak, and friendship in the middle of complicated cases. Real-life surgeons don’t gossip about who’s sleeping with who as much as they complain with their colleagues about back, shoulder, and neck pain after long hours of surgery.


They don’t sit around in executive office chairs all day like the people in Wall Street. They perform life-saving (and sometimes life-threatening) procedures to patients. This is why most surgeons report pain, physical discomfort, and fatigue when performing all kinds of surgeries. A surgeon’s work-related injuries can potentially compromise an operation and endanger a patient. More than that, chronic pain may result to long-term complications that can cause them to retire early. Here are a couple of things that might help.


While your stagnant position during surgery is inevitable, you can, however, control your morning routine. Exercising daily is good for your back, and good for breaking the monotony of your all-day work. Doing gentle stretches before and after surgery also helps. Maybe even a yoga chair at home will help. Physical activity is a good way to counter the stiffening of muscles as a result of staying in one standing position for hours.

Rest and Recovery

There’s no question about how exhausting it is to stand for a long period of time in front of an open chest—not to mention the mental stress that comes with it. You’ve probably saved patients’ lives, and saw them die in the operating table. All of this is a lot to take in even after years of practice.

To prevent long-term musculoskeletal complications, allotting time for rest and recovery is very crucial. An overstressed surgeon in an operating room isn’t good for the patient too. It might compromise your judgment, or your senses. Get a massage in your free time if you can, just to ease away the back pain.

Good Posture

Unlike surgeons’ portrayal in Grey’s Anatomy, doctors don’t spend all their time in the operating room or with a patient. They actually have an office where they see and consult with patients. This is also where they wait for lab results, x-rays, and testing. And most importantly, a place for they can rest from their surgeries. While you don’t have much of a choice about your posture in the operating room, you do have a choice on how you sit and stand outside of it.

Make sure to stand and walk with your chest out with shoulders relaxed. It might be tempting to slouch, but don’t. Sit up straight whenever you’re in your office. If this is too hard to maintain for you, there are chairs for posture support that can help. Not only do you need lumbar support for your lower back but also pelvic support to stop you from sliding away from your chair, ensuring you can sit up straight.

Surgeons aren’t mainstream heroes, but they’ve kept more people alive than Marvel heroes have, even at the cost of their own health. The best way to save lives is to take care of your own first.

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