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 (X̅=25, SD=6.3) and a 36- to 50-year-old group (X̅=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 χ2=6, df=2, P<.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. The results of this study suggest a relationship between the presence of some postural abnormalities and the incidence of pain.

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  • Received January 16, 1991.
  • Accepted February 18, 1992.