The technology available today is expanding by leaps and bounds. Young and old alike are getting caught up in “staying connected” all the time via social media, email and interactive gaming. The modern convenience of our mobile devices is astounding.
HOW did we ever live without the ability to pull up a restaurant location and directions while our friend drives? Want to see if this sale price really is good? Grab your cellphone and search it. Traveling for work but want to stay in contact with the family? There’s an app for that too! All these conveniences are nice – but come with a price tag that can be rather hefty for some and we’re not just paying with our wallets.
Ever heard of the term “Text Neck”? Florida chiropractor Dr. Dean Fishman was discussing a teen girl’s neck pain and headaches with her mother when he glanced over and saw her posture – seated in a chair, hunched over her phone typing. He quickly realized this habit of head down texting was the probable cause of her pain. The term Text Neck was coined to describe the repeated stress injury to the body caused by excessive texting and any handheld electronic device usage. The condition originates from the cervical spinal degeneration caused by frequent and prolonged forward head posture while looking down at mobile electronics.
The hazards of Text Neck were confirmed in a recent study published in Surgical Technology International’s 25th edition. New York spine surgeon Kenneth Hansraj conducted a study which found “bending your head to look at your mobile device held in your hands can put up to 60 pounds of pressure on your neck.” He compared what happens when subjects bent their head at 15, 30, 45 and 90 degrees to see with devices. In the neutral position, ears over shoulders, the average human head weighs about 10 pounds. However, with every inch, the head is tilted forward, the pressure on the spine doubles. Looking down when texting can easily create 20 or 30 pounds of pressure on the spine.
This phenomenon is not only for teens in the US. It is estimated that over 2/3 of the world’s population has a mobile phone. Americans average almost 3 hours a day texting, emailing and using social media on their phone. Then they spend even more time using the phone for gaming, photos, web searching and more. It’s not just cell phones that are the problem. Mobile technology has expanded.
Dr. Fishman states, “Text Neck is not just a texting problem… Text Neck is a gaming problem. Text Neck is an e-mailing problem.”
Approximately 75% of the world’s population is at risk of developing Text Neck due to the hours they spend “hunched over their handheld devices with their heads flexed forward” every day.
The results of Text Neck include “changes in the cervical spine, curve, supporting ligaments, tendons, and musculature, as well as the bony segments, commonly causing postural change.” Common complaints of Text Neck are “pain felt in the neck, shoulder, back, arm, fingers, hands, wrists and elbows, as well as headaches and numbness and tingling of the upper extremities.”
Untreated, these symptoms may be chronic and lead to more serious problems:
- Flattening of the Spinal Curve
- Onset of Early Arthritis
- Spinal Degeneration
- Spinal Misalignment
- Disc Herniation
- Disc Compression
- Muscle Damage
- Nerve Damage
- Loss of Lung Volume Capacity
- Gastrointestinal Problems
With severe consequences a real threat to our global health, the focus must be on prevention. Dr. Hansraj recommends “people should continue to enjoy their smart devices, but [they need to] pay specific attention to where their head is in space.”
It is unlikely that we will become less connected to our technology in the near future. Without education and prevention, the cases of Text Neck will continue to grow. Talk to your chiropractor about the best angle for you to use your electronic devices and steps you can take to reduce the stress on your spine to prevent Text Neck.
If you have already started having neck pain or headaches, it’s not too late to correct the problem. Your doctor of chiropractic can offer adjustments, modalities, stretches and/or exercises to help strengthen the spine, reverse the negative effects of Text Neck and prevent it from recurring.
You can find a TCA member chiropractor near you at www.tnchiro.com/find-a-doctor.
- TEXT NECK: A Global Epidemic –Dr. Dean Fishman – http://text-neck.com/
- “Your smartphone is a pain in the neck” by Jacque Wilson, CNN – on cnn.com – Updated 9:53 PM ET, Mon February 5, 2018
This article is being shared as part of TCA’s
“Realign Your Thinking” public-awareness campaign –
helping Tennesseans understand what chiropractic care offers
and the positive role it plays in the overall health care system.