As if possible radiation and providing a distraction while driving or walking wasn’t enough… cell phone usage is responsible for yet another hazardous side effect! It’s a disturbing trend that is affecting the health of tens of thousands of Americans… Text neck!
According to NBC News, doctors and chiropractors have observed that people that hunch over their mobile gadgets are developing neck strain, headaches, pain in the shoulders and sometimes, pain in arms and hands.
What is Text Neck?
The condition occurs because the joints and tissue in the neck are not built to be flexed or hunched forward and down staring at a screen for long periods of time. Spending hours a day peering down at a screen puts too much stress on your neck and can lead to loss of curvature in your spine which in turn could cause debilitating pain that lasts a lifetime.
CNN.com explains… “the average human head weighs 10 pounds in a neutral position — when your ears are over your shoulders. For every inch you tilt your head forward, the pressure on your spine doubles. So if you’re looking at a smartphone in your lap, your neck is holding up what feels like 20 or 30 pounds.”
So looking down at your phone to text is putting double or triple the workload on your neck! The same article asks “Think of what would happen if you stand on your feet with your ankle sideways for 10 minutes”. For that matter, what would happen if you bent completely to the left at the waist and held that position for 10 – 15 minutes? Holding unnatural positions for long period of times will cause stiffness and soreness on any joint, yet we do it to our necks all the time.
“Text Neck is not just a texting problem,” says Dr. Dean Fishman. “Text neck is a gaming problem. Text neck is an e-mailing problem…”
Who is affected?
Dr. Dean Fishman is leading the charge in spreading awareness, he originally coined the term in 2008 while examining a 17-year-old patient. The teen came in complaining of headaches and neck pain. As Fishman was trying to explain to the patient’s mother exactly what the problem was, he glanced over and saw her posture and made the connection.
“Text Neck is not just a texting problem,” says Dr. Dean Fishman. “Text neck is a gaming problem. Text neck is an e-mailing problem…” and… “It’s starting younger and younger.”
So practically anyone who spends prolonged periods of time looking down at their cell phones, laptops, gaming device, e-book reader, etc. is at risk! The worst part is that data suggests that teens are leading the nation in smart phone adoption and texting usage, meaning that the next generation could possibly see epidimic levels of this condition.
Be sure to check out our infographic on this topic.
But wait there’s more!
If developing neck pain is not concern enough, another problem with this posture affects one of our most basic functions needed to live. Do this exercise real quick, put your chin into your chest as if you were texting and take a deep breath. Now raise your chin and look straight forward and take a deep breath. Which position allowed you to fill your lungs more?
A lack of oxygen is the start of a lot of bad things for your body. Every single organ in your body could be potentially affected by this. Teens today are starting earlier and risk the effects of taking in less oxygen over their lifetime.
What can we do?
So enough doom and gloom, lets talk about some things we can do to alleviate or prevent this condition.
- Be aware of what you are doing and use common sense. Don’t text or game or do anything that affects your posture for hours on end.
- Take Breaks. If you must do text or be in an awkward position, take breaks every 30 to 45 mins. Do some stretching of the muscles involved. This is good for any one being in the same position whether it’s sitting an office chair or texting.
- Additionally, the same CNN report suggests you can use a docking station or headset to allow you to use the device in different positions.
These symptoms sounds familiar.
Are you already experiencing the sore neck, achy shoulders, intermittent headaches and other symptoms? Do you think you are already suffering from text neck? If you think you might be or if you want a professional opinion, then go see your chiropractor or feel free to contact us!
If you were to make an appointment with us at Smoot Family Chiropractic using our online form or by calling us at (831) 751-3939, we would go over all your symptoms and perform a full evaluation (which includes an x-ray of your spine if needed) in order to determine what is causing your symptoms.
If you happen to have doubts keep in mind that like any progressive condition (for example dental cavities, heart disease, etc), the sooner we find it the better the chance we have to correct it!
It’s up to you.
In the end it’s up to you to do what you feel is right. I for one will not text or use my cell for extended periods of time. The web surfing can wait until I get home, it’s not worth risking my health to me.
What do you guys think? I am interested in hearing from anyone who has noticed aches and pains from mobile device use, or likewise who feels this is more fiction than fact.