Alterations in cervical muscle activity in functional and stressful tasks in female office workers with neck pain

Johnston, V., Jull, G., Darnell, R., Jimmieson, N.L., & Souvlis, T. (2008) Alterations in cervical muscle activity in functional and stressful tasks in female office workers with neck pain. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 103(3), pp. 253-264.

View at publisher


This study determined differences between computer workers with varying levels of neck pain in terms of work stressors, employee strain, electromyography (EMG) amplitude and heart rate response to various tasks. Participants included 85 workers (33, no pain; 38, mild pain; 14, moderate pain) and 22 non-working controls. Work stressors evaluated were job demands, decision authority, and social support. Heart rate was recorded during three tasks: copy-typing, typing with superimposed stress and a colour word task. Measures included electromyography signals from the sternocleidomastoid (SCM), anterior scalene (AS), cervical extensor (CE) and upper trapezius (UT) muscles bilaterally. Results showed no difference between groups in work stressors or employee strain measures. Workers with and without pain had higher measured levels of EMG amplitude in SCM, AS and CE muscles during the tasks than controls (all P < 0.02). In workers with neck pain, the UT had difficulty in switching off on completion of tasks compared with controls and workers without pain. There was an increase in heart rate, perceived tension and pain and decrease in accuracy for all groups during the stressful tasks with symptomatic workers producing more typing errors than controls and workers without pain. These findings suggest an altered muscle recruitment pattern in the neck flexor and extensor muscles. Whether this is a consequence or source of the musculoskeletal disorder cannot be determined from this study. It is possible that workers currently without symptoms may be at risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder.

Impact and interest:

36 citations in Scopus
Search Google Scholar™
31 citations in Web of Science®

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

ID Code: 71572
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1007/s00421-008-0696-8
ISSN: 1439-6319
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Deposited On: 18 May 2014 22:58
Last Modified: 21 May 2014 00:07

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page