Neck pain is a common condition with several proposed biomechanical contributing factors. Thoracic spine dysfunction is hypothesized as one of the predisposing factors, which necessitates the need to explore the contribution of thoracic posture and mobility toward neck pain. Accordingly, the present work aimed to review the existing literature investigating the presence of thoracic spine dysfunction in individuals with neck pain. A literature search was conducted in the three electronic databases of PubMed, CINAHL, and Web of Science. Studies published between 1990 and 2017 were considered. After reviewing the abstracts, two authors independently scrutinized the full-text documents for their relevance. The initial search yielded 2,167 articles, of which nine studies involving comparisons of neck pain patients and healthy controls were identified for the review. Increased thoracic kyphosis was positively correlated with the presence of forward head posture but not uniformly associated with neck pain intensity and disability. Thoracic mobility was reduced in the neck pain population, and the role of thoracic kyphosis as a risk factor for pain development could not be confirmed. Thus, an association exists between thoracic kyphosis and postural alteration in the cervical spine. The review favors the inclusion of thoracic spine assessment and treatment in mechanical neck pain patients. Further studies are needed to investigate the cause-effect relationship between thoracic posture and cervical dysfunction.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine