Smartphones have become an integral part of our daily lives. For many years, we have read horror stories about how mobile phones are damaging both our mental and physical health, yet we choose to ignore and feed our addictions.
What Is Text Neck?
Mobile phones have been said to cause headaches, insomnia, loss of productivity, memory loss, repetitive strain injury and possibly cancer. Now, we can now add spinal damage to this growing list of pitfalls which come with owning a mobile phone.
Spinal damage is caused when you’re looking down at your mobile phone often, the weight of your head plus the Earth’s gravity puts unbearable strain on your neck and spine. The condition can cause muscle strain, pinched nerves, herniated discs, and over time, even remove your neck’s natural curve.
The spinal damage caused by mobile phone use has been dubbed the ‘text-neck’, another term coined from the oh-so public affection with our mobile devices.
Why Is Spinal Damage A Growing Problem?
The National Library of Medicine reports that slumping over your mobile phone for hours on end, can build unnecessary pressure and result in long-lasting back problems. This is a huge problem, as the average mobile phone user spends several hours a day reading and messaging others.
A study carried by the International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics found that 53 per cent of mobile users suffer from numbness or neck aches. Another, more concerning study, led by Professor Erik Peper of San Francisco State University discovered 83 per cent of subjects reported some hand and neck pain during texting ¨C but also displayed other signs of tension, like holding their breath and an increase of heart rate.
How Is Texting To Blame?
According to a conducted by Surgical Technology International, the average adult head weighs between 10 to 12 pounds, and by tilting this 14 degrees forward will increase the force on the cervical spine to 27 ponds. If this isn’t shocking enough, when you tilt your head at a 60 degree angle, you put an extra 60 pounds on the top of your spine ¨C the average weight of a seven-year old.
The typical mobile phone user will spend 2 to 4 hours a day tilted over their phone, this equals 700 to 1,400 hours a year excess stress to the cervical spine. This could result to degeneration and required surgeries.
Who Suffers From Text Neck?
As the classic sign of the ailment is serious stiffness in neck, there is no reliable estimate of total number of people living with the stiffness, pain and muscle strain of text neck. But with 2.19 trillion text messages being sent annually, in America alone, there are millions of potential sufferers. Worryingly, some doctors have never heard of text neck and will not think to ask patients with neck pain about their mobile and computer habits.
As text neck is fundamentally an overuse of injury, those who are middle aged and beyond are particularly more susceptible to the condition, because people in their 50s and 60s have less tissue tolerance. However, this doesn’t mean younger people are of less risk. If you look at the typical adults’ posture whilst they’re pecking away on their smartphones, it’s suggested that this alignment will become frozen overtime. In 15 years, it’s probable that smartphone users will look pained.
Stop The Degeneration Of Smartphone Users
Physical therapy can often be quite helpful. It can relieve pain, lengthen shortened muscles, help you regain full motion and learn better postural habits. But while physical therapy can get you out of pain in the short term, the results won’t hold up if you resume the smartphone routine that provoked your pain in the first place.
To avoid developing a text neck you should look at your mobile phone with your eyes down and not your head. The proper upper spine posture is to align your ears with your shoulders and keep your shoulder blades back.