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Text Neck: A Modern Spine Malady


Text neck is the term used to describe the neck pain and damage sustained from excessive strain on the spine from looking down at any handheld mobile device too frequently and for extended periods of time.

The term “Text-neck” was used by Dr Dean L. Fishman, a US Chiropractic Physician. Indeed, as mobile technology rapidly increases, people are spending lots of time with handheld devices like smartphones, e-readers and computer tablets.  And ‘text neck’, which can potentially affect millions worldwide, is an increasing health concern.

Over time, researchers say, this poor posture can lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine, degeneration and even surgery.

Dr Ken Hansraj, a premier spinal and orthopaedic surgeon operating in Poughkeepsie, New York, conducted a research on the impact that the typical texting posture has on the spine.

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 according to the research by Dr Kenneth Hansraj.

Text-Neck Actions

“You can call it an epidemic. Wherever you go, just look around: People are head down into their phones, especially teenagers,” Hansraj told TODAY.

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.
  • Regular head 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 backwards. This strengthens the ligaments and muscles that support your neck, he noted.
  • Stand in a doorway with your arms extended and push your chest forward to strengthen “the muscles of good posture,” Hansraj said

“I’m not against technology at all. My message is really simple: just be cognizant of where your head is in space. Continue to enjoy your smartphones and other technology — just be sure to keep your head is up.” Hansraj said.

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