8 December 2021

Work-Related Illnesses of Hairdressers: A Doctor Answers your Questions

What are the most common musculoskeletal problems? How can they be relieved? We asked Dr. Salvatore Rendo, Director of the Turin Day Polyclinic of the CNA (Confederation of Trades Wellness and Health).

To better understand work-related illnesses of hairdressers and what musculoskeletal problems hairdressers are subject to due to incorrect posture, standing for long periods of time, and repetitive movements (see the use of hairbrushes, blow-dryers, and irons) while on the job, we asked Salvatore Rendo, director of the ASQ Turin Polyclinic S.r.l. of the CNA.

It is better to talk about musculoskeletal diseases or disorders?
In general they are defined as symptoms or disorders, which can evolve into a variety of actual pathologies.

When it comes to hairdressers, what are the anatomic zones most subject to such issues?
Above all the cervico-brachial quadrant, which involves the musculoskeletal system of the cervical backbone and the arms. It may manifest itself as neck pain, which in many cases involves the arms and shoulders. Always on this level, it is not unusual to find cervical disk disease and tendinitis of the rotator cuff (Ed. Note: the muscular-tendon complex of the shoulder that stabilizes the shoulder-joint). The elbow instead may be plagued by painful tendinitis caused by an incorrect use of the joint that tends to inflame the muscles that are connected to the epicondyle. These inflammatory conditions can be treated successfully with physical therapy, but unfortunately can return and become chronic.
Then there are postural issues involving the legs and, above all, the lower back, which can suffer from lumbago and lower back pain. Standing for long periods of time can also lead to circulatory problems in subjects prone to such conditions.

Can these conditions and diseases related to hairdressing become serious enough to prevent one from working in his or her chosen profession?
Luckily, they are almost never disabling. I would say that what makes the hairdresser’s job difficult is polyarthritis of the shoulder, which can be operated, but in general physical therapy and surgery makes it possible to overcome most of these problems without disabling consequences.

It is possible to take preventive action?
Other than maintain correct posture, unfortunately not. The only solution for relieving tension and fatigue of the limbs and spine is to use a stool while working, whenever possible.

Are there any exercises that can help relieve these problems once they appear?
Yes – more than one: from low-impact exercise to postural exercises, from Pilates to yoga. In any case one fact cannot be denied: workers who practice even simple physical activity can benefit greatly. And this is the advice I wish to leave hairdressers, even if sometimes they are reluctant to follow it.



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