Incidence of common postural abnormalities in the cervical, shoulder, and thoracic regions and their association with pain in two age groups of healthy subjects

Phys Ther. 1992 Jun;72(6):425-31. doi: 10.1093/ptj/72.6.425.


The purposes of this study were to identify the incidence of postural abnormalities of the thoracic, cervical, and shoulder regions in two age groups of healthy subjects and to explore whether these abnormalities were associated with pain. Eighty-eight healthy subjects, aged 20 to 50 years, were asked to answer a pain questionnaire and to stand by a plumb line for postural assessment of forward head, rounded shoulders, and kyphosis. Subjects were divided into two age groups: a 20- to 35-year-old group (mean = 25, SD = 63) and a 36- to 50-year-old group (mean = 47, SD = 2.6). Interrater and intrarater reliability (Cohen's Kappa coefficients) for postural assessment were established at .611 and .825, respectively. Frequency counts revealed postural abnormalities were prevalent (forward head = 66%, kyphosis = 38%, right rounded shoulder = 73%, left rounded shoulder = 66%). No relationship was found between the severity of postural abnormality and the severity and frequency of pain. Subjects with more severe postural abnormalities, however, had a significantly increased incidence of pain, as determined by chi-square analysis (critical chi 2 = 6, df = 2, P less than .05). Subjects with kyphosis and rounded shoulders had an increased incidence of interscapular pain, and those with a forward-head posture had an increased incidence of cervical, interscapular, and headache pain.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Kyphosis / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Posture*
  • Reference Values
  • Shoulder
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thorax