Question: Is neck/shoulder pain in adolescents related to their sitting spinal posture, taking account of gender?
Design: Cross-sectional survey and direct observation.
Participants: 1597 adolescents from the 'Raine' birth cohort study (781 females, 816 males) with a mean age of 14.1 years (SD 0.2).
Outcome measures: Neck/shoulder pain prevalence and gender was measured by survey. Spinal posture (7 angles) during sitting was measured from photographs.
Results: Life, month, and point prevalence for neck/shoulder pain among adolescents were 47%, 29%, and 5% respectively. Life prevalence was 10% higher in females than in males and month prevalence was 12% higher. When looking straight ahead, females sat with 2 degrees (95% CI 1 to 3) less neck flexion, 2 degrees (95% CI 0 to 3) less craniocervical angle, 7 degrees (95% CI 6 to 8) less cervicothoracic angle, 13 degrees (95% CI 12 to 14) less trunk angle, 10 degrees (95% CI 8 to 12) less lumbar angle, and 9 degrees (95% CI 7 to 11) more anterior pelvic tilt than males. Adolescents with neck/shoulder pain sat with 2 degrees (95% CI 1 to 3) less trunk angle, and 1 degree (95% CI 0 to 2) less cervicothoracic angle than those without pain. After controlling for gender, OR for neck/shoulder pain ever predicted by any angle ranged from 0.99 to 1.00 (range of 95% CI 0.98 to 1.01).
Conclusion: Neck/shoulder pain is highly prevalent in Australian adolescents. Sitting spinal posture differs between males and females and differs slightly between those with and without neck/shoulder pain. However, posture was not predictive of neck/shoulder pain ever after controlling for gender.