July 2018

Female Office Workers With Moderate Neck Pain Have Increased Anterior Positioning of the Cervical Spine and Stiffness of Upper Trapezius Myofascial Tissue in Sitting Posture

Authors: Piotr Kocur, Maciej Wilski, Jacek Lewandowski, Dawid Lochynski

Affiliations: Department of Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, Poznan University of Physical Education, Poznan, Poland

Journal: PM&R - July 2018 (DOI: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2018.07.002)

Background: Work-related neck disorders are among the most common dysfunctions in office workers. Understanding cervical myofascial mechanical characteristics that differentiate symptomatic from asymptomatic office workers is crucial for the understanding of musculoskeletal dysfunctions in workers with neck pain.

Objective: To assess the effect of moderate work-related neck disorders on head posture and stiffness and perceived pain threshold of the upper trapezius (UT) and sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscles.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Work environment.

Participants: Sixteen office workers with diagnosed moderate work-related neck disorders and 16 asymptomatic office workers matched for sex, age, body mass index, and the nature and duration of their work.

Intervention: Not applicable.

Outcome: The primary outcome measure consisted of measurements of head posture using craniovertebral angle and myotonometric muscle stiffness (Newtons per meter) of the UT and SCM muscles. The secondary output variable was the perceived pain threshold algometry of the studied muscles.

Results: Compared with controls, subjects with work-related neck pain had a significantly smaller craniovertebral angle (by 8.3%; Cohen d = 0.88, P = .02) and greater stiffness of the UT myofascial tissue (by 11.3%; Cohen d = 1.05, P = .006). No significant differences in perceived pain threshold of the myofascial tissue of the UT or SCM muscles were found between groups.

Level of Evidence: II

In this study female office workers with neck pain had increased anterior positioning of the head and stiffness of the UT muscle in the sitting posture, which was not associated with changes in the pressure pain threshold of this muscle.