A comparison of symptomatic and asymptomatic office workers performing monotonous keyboard work--2: neck and shoulder kinematics

Man Ther. 2005 Nov;10(4):281-91. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2005.01.005. Epub 2005 Jul 5.


Prolonged static posture has been identified as a major risk factor for work-related neck and upper limb disorders (WRNULD) in computer users. Previous research has mainly examined working postures in healthy pain-free individuals. The present study examined whether symptomatic subjects exhibited the same kinematic patterns as asymptomatic controls during a prolonged computer task. In a Case-Control comparison, female office workers performed the same computer task using the same adjustable computer workstation for 1h. Three-dimensional (3D) kinematics were measured in the head-neck, thorax and shoulder (upper arm) segments. Case Group subjects (n=21) displayed trends for increased head-neck flexion angles and greater ranges of movements than the Control Group (n=17). There were also small but significant differences between groups in side flexion and rotation angles of the head-neck region. The shoulder joints displayed significantly greater flexion and abduction angles on the right in both groups, although no group differences were observed. The increased neck flexion angles were associated with significantly higher activity in the upper trapezius muscle and with neck and shoulder discomfort. The individual differences in postural habits appeared to be independent of the physical environment. These results suggest motor control changes are associated with the presence of WRNULD.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Neck Muscles / physiopathology
  • Neck Pain / etiology
  • Neck Pain / physiopathology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Posture
  • Range of Motion, Articular*
  • Rotation
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology
  • Shoulder Pain / physiopathology*
  • Workload