Impact of Prolonged Tablet Computer Usage with Head Forward and Neck Flexion Posture on Pain Intensity, Cervical Joint Position Sense and Balance Control in Mechanical Neck Pain Subjects

Abstract

Background

The prolonged head forward and neck flexion posture associated with tablet computer use is a known risk factor for neck pain. Neck pain related dysfunction may cause proprioceptive errors and deficits in balance control. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the impact of prolonged tablet computer use with head forward and neck flexion posture on the pain intensity, cervical position sense and balance control in mechanical neck pain patients. The prolonged head forward and neck flexion posture associated with tablet computer use is a known risk factor for neck pain. Neck pain related dysfunction may cause proprioceptive errors and deficits in balance control. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the impact of prolonged tablet computer use with head forward and neck flexion posture on the pain intensity, cervical position sense and balance control in mechanical neck pain patients.The prolonged head forward and neck flexion posture associated with tablet computer use is a known risk factor for neck pain. Neck pain related dysfunction may cause proprioceptive errors and deficits in balance control. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the impact of prolonged tablet computer use with head forward and neck flexion posture on the pain intensity, cervical position sense and balance control in mechanical neck pain patients.

Methods

Twenty subjects with mechanical neck pain (24.1 ± 3.4 years) and 20 healthy controls (23.7 ± 3.3 years) were recruited from a university environment. A neck pain inducing protocol simulating prolonged tablet computer usage with neck flexion posture was performed by the mechanical neck pain subjects until the point of moderate pain. The neck pain related scores, cervical range of motion and neck tissue hardness were evaluated in both the healthy controls and the neck pain subjects before the neck pain inducing protocol. Differences in the cervical joint position sense, neck tissue hardness and static standing balance performance of the healthy controls and mechanical neck pain subjects were investigated after the neck pain inducing protocol.

Results

The mechanical neck pain subjects demonstrated a lower cervical range of motion and a harder neck tissue status than the control subjects. The pain intensity reported by the neck pain subjects after the neck pain inducing protocol was similar to that experienced by the subjects in previous pain attacks. Significant differences in the absolute neck joint positioning error were observed between the mechanical neck pain group and the control group. Prolonged tablet computer use with head forward and neck flexion posture did not significantly increase the joint positioning error in the mechanical neck pain group. However, prolonged tablet computer use with head forward and neck flexion posture resulted in a poorer static standing balance performance in the subjects with mechanical neck pain than in the healthy controls.

Conclusion

The subjects with mechanical neck pain exhibited a decreased cervical range of motion, a harder neck tissue status and greater neck joint position errors than the healthy controls. In addition, prolonged tablet computer use with head forward and neck flexion posture reproduced the neck pain severity and reduced the balance control ability of the mechanical neck pain subjects.

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Correspondence to Cheng-Feng Lin.

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Lin, CC., Hua, SH., Lin, CL. et al. Impact of Prolonged Tablet Computer Usage with Head Forward and Neck Flexion Posture on Pain Intensity, Cervical Joint Position Sense and Balance Control in Mechanical Neck Pain Subjects. J. Med. Biol. Eng. 40, 372–382 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40846-020-00525-8

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Keywords

  • Mechanical neck pain
  • Prolonged tablet computer use
  • Neck position sense
  • Proprioception
  • Balance control