Dutch Study Looks at Neck Pain and Sitting Posture

In a study published in the March edition of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Dutch researchers examine neck flexion, neck rotation, and a seated posture as possible risk factors for the development of neck pain.

The prospective cohort study took place over 3 years and included 1334 workers. Workers were selected from various industrial and service areas including the metal industry, computer software industry, chemical industry, pharmaceutical industry, food industry, wood construction industry, insurance companies, child care centers, hospitals, distribution companies and bricklayers.

Data was gathered through video analysis and questionnaires.

The study quotes neck pain as a major health problem in the modern society with one year prevalence rates among a general population as high as 40%. The background of the study also notes that neck pain is assumed to be of multifactorial origin, implying that several risk factors can contribute to its development.

The study came to the following conclusions:

  • There is a significant positive association between prolonged sitting at work and neck pain, implying that there is an increased risk of neck pain for people who work more than 95% of the time in a sitting position.
  • There is a positive trend for an association between neck pain and neck flexion at work, suggesting that there is an increased risk of neck pain for people who are working with the neck flexed more than 20 degrees for a major part of the working day.
  • No clear relation was found between neck rotation at work and neck pain. Here researchers note that the power to investigate prolonged neck rotation was limited in this study.
The study concludes that the prevention of neck pain should focus on the reduction of time spent working in a sitting position and the promotion of more dynamic working postures.

This study was done in part by the TNO Work and Employment. The TNO is the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research. The Work and Employment division dates back to 1891. The TNO seeks and develops innovative approaches to work, organization and technology towards the creation of conditions which will allow employees to work in a productive and healthy way.

For more information visit the TNO.