Texting: There’s no denying we all do it.
And unfortunately as this relatively new phenomenon continues to play such a dominate role in our lives, our bodies haven’t had time to evolve to deal with its physical effects. More and more, I find myself treating people who suffer from pain and discomfort from what many now describe as “Text Neck.”
To help educate people about this potential problem, I would like to share a very important article that describes in shocking detail what you are doing to your body every time you look down to text.
The following appeared in the Washington Post on 11/20/2014:
“It is an epidemic or, at least, it’s very common,” Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, told The Washington Post. “Just look around you, everyone has their heads down.”
The human head weighs about a dozen pounds. But as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds.
Can’t grasp the significance of 60 pounds? Imagine carrying an 8-year-old around your neck several hours per day. Smartphone users spend an average of two to four hours per day hunched over, reading e-mails, sending texts or checking social media sites. That’s 700 to 1,400 hours per year people are putting stress on their spines, according to the research. And high-schoolers might be the worst. They could conceivably spend an additional 5,000 hours in this position, Hansraj said.
That’s the burden that comes with staring at a smartphone — the way millions do for hours every day. Over time, researchers say, this poor posture, sometimes called “text neck,” can lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine, degeneration and even surgery.
“The problem is really profound in young people,” he said. “With this excessive stress in the neck, we might start seeing young people needing spine care. I would really like to see parents showing more guidance.”
Medical experts have been warning people for years. Some say for every inch the head tilts forward, the pressure on the spine doubles.
Tom DiAngelis, president of the American Physical Therapy Association‘s Private Practice Section, told CNN last year the effect is similar to bending a finger all the way back and holding it there for about an hour.
“As you stretch the tissue for a long period of time, it gets sore, it gets inflamed,” he said. It can also cause muscle strain, pinched nerves, herniated disks and, over time, it can even remove the neck’s natural curve.
It’s a risk for some 58 percent of American adults who own smartphones.
Michelle Collie, a doctor who heads Performance Physical Therapy in Rhode Island, told CNN last year she started seeing patients with mobile technology-induced head, neck and back pain some six or seven years ago.
Poor posture can cause other problems as well. Experts say it can reduce lung capacity by as much as 30 percent. It has also been linked to headaches and neurological issues, depression and heart disease.
Speaking to TODAY, Hansraj gave smartphone users tips to avoid pain:
- Look down at your device with your eyes. No need to bend your neck.
- Exercise: Move your head from left to right several times. Use your hands to provide resistance and push your head against them, first forward and then backward. Stand in a doorway with your arms extended and push your chest forward to strengthen “the muscles of good posture,” Hansraj said.
“I love technology. I’m not bashing technology in any way,” Hansraj told The Post. “My message is: Just be cognizant of where your head is in space. Continue to enjoy your smartphones and continue to enjoy this technology — just make sure your head is up.”
At Soul Focus, we provide treatment for TEXT NECK that delivers both relief from pain and the preventative care necessary to combat the early stages of arthritis and structural deformity that comes as a result of TEXT NECK. Chiropractic restores proper alignment and physical therapy strengthens the muscles to prevent further damage.