Today, technology connects us in ways that our ancestors could only dream of. Yet, as with everything, these advancements come at a price and cellphone addiction has become a problem. Physicians and chiropractors agree that our mobile devices and tablets can literally be a pain in the neck.
In 2008, Dr. Dean Fishman coined the term “text neck” for the formally known condition “forward head posture.” Symptoms include headaches, neck pain, tension in the shoulders and, in some cases, throbbing in the arms and hands. The name implies that the aches are caused by texting, but it can also occur from using tablets or portable gaming devices.
Text neck is caused by slouching or tilting forward. Experts agree that the condition occurs because joints and tissue in the neck are not built to withstand slumping and leaning for extended periods of time. It also doesn’t help that our head weighs 10 pounds and leaning forward doubles, even triples, the weight, causing us even more pain.
As of now experts say that some of the long-term effects include: arthritic neck damage, muscle strain, disc herniation and pinched nerves. Slouching forward reduces our lung capacity by 30 percent. Bad posture puts pressure on our organs causing gastrointestinal problems.
Text neck is common among kids between the ages of 8-18. However, due to the increase gadget-demand the epidemic is spreading to people of all ages. Today, there are over six billion cell phones subscriptions. And according to the Wireless Association 2.3 trillion texts were sent in 2011, a staggering 2.1 trillion increase from the texts sent in 2006.
To avoid the aches and pains consider these suggestions:
- Text neck app. Dr. Fishman created an app to help you find a safe viewing angle for your phone. It even provides physical exercises to help prevent bodily tension.
- Docking stations. Investing in docking stations for your phone or tablet can make a world of difference for your neck and shoulders.
- Pause. It’s the constant use of these gadgets that cause the most pain. The more breaks you take when using gadgets, like having a long stretch ever 20 to 30 minutes, the less pain you’ll feel.
- Posture. To avoid pain be mindful of your body. Keep your shoulders back and your head in an upright position.
- Exercise. Yoga and Pilates are great for flexibility. Consider adding them to your workout routine to avoid text neck.