A prospective study has found that people who worked full-time at a desk job, and did not exercise had a raised risk of developing chronic neck pain after a year, compared with people doing the same type of work, but who did some sort of leisure physical activity.

“Physical activity is important for prevention of chronic neck pain, and it’s important for doctors to stress this fact to their patients at well visits, especially their patients who have deck jobs or jobs that involve a lot of sitting for long periods and are relatively physically inactive,” said lead author Katrina Maluf, PhD, PT, from the University of Colorado, Denver. “You can activate the cervical extensors by pulling your shoulders back and down. That causes increased activation of the muscles in the back of your neck as well. Just sitting with good posture as opposed to falling into poor posture will exercise them and you can certainly do that at work while you are typing,” she said.

In this study, Dr. Maluf and her team assessed the role of physical activity in the development of chronic neck pain among 171 office workers. The results showed that workers who said they did no physical activity outside of work had almost a 50% increased risk of developing neck pain compared with those who reported doing some physical activity.

Dr. Maluf said, “We really feel that it is important for physicians to ask about physical activity levels and tell their patients that there are benefits to preventing pain. We hope that physicians will encourage their patients to be proactive in this regard.”

Commenting to Medscape Medical News, Laura Frey Law, PhD, PT from the University of Iowa, Iowa City said, “Finding that physical activity is such a key predictor and not just a consequence of having pain but actually predicting who will develop pain is a very important one, and being physically inactive is a crucial, but fortunately modifiable risk factor in people who have sedentary jobs.”  Medscape Medical News    5/15/14




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