Is Your Smartphone A Major Threat To Your Neck and Spine?

The debate about whether smartphones are a boon or a bane rages on, and we are no closer to finding a consensus. Perhaps it is meant to be that way, because you can’t root for one side without seriously considering the other as well. There is no doubt that there are countless benefits of smartphones, but at the same time, there are also a host of risks associated with the excessive use of electronic devices, such smartphones or tablets. Some of these are related to your mental health, while a number of others affect can affect you physically.

For example, we want to consider the act of looking down at your smartphone for an extended period of time, and explaining how it can wreak havoc on your neck and spine! For those smartphone lovers out there, this could be a “painful” truth, but still one that you should consider.

Text Neck

Credit: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

Credit: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

‘Text neck’ is a relatively new medical term, coined by one US chiropractor Dr Dean L. Fishman. It refers to the neck pain and damages that are sustained on one’s neck due to looking down at one’s electronic device (mainly smartphones) for too long. According to this researcher, regular smartphone users spend anywhere from two to four hours a day looking down at their phones, which makes the problem only worsen over time.

Technology has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years, leading people to spend more and more time on their electronic devices; thus there has been an increasing number of cases of text neck all over the world.

Why Does This Happen?

It all comes down to basic biology and physics. An average human head weighs around 5.4 kilograms (around 12 pounds) under normal conditions. However, when you are ‘looking down’ at your phone for too long, the effective weight that is applied on your spine increases significantly. This relation is also proportional to the time that you spend with your head bent forward. This tightens and shortens the muscles and compresses the nerves, which can cause pain and spasms.

Image Source: HowItWorksDaily

Image Source: HowItWorksDaily

Do you think you might have text neck?

The symptoms of text neck include chronic shoulder pain and tightness that result in shoulder muscle spasms, a nagging pain in the neck, or even chronic headaches when the problem goes untreated for a long time.

What can you do to cure text neck?

If you have to use your smartphone for long periods of time and there is no way to avoid that, be sure that you hold it at eye level as much as possible. That way, you won’t put unnecessary pressure on your neck and spine. Also, try to take frequent breaks from your smartphone or e-reader,. Also, if you work in an office, make sure that the center of your monitor screen is close to eye level. You should also consider taking quick strolls intermittently throughout your day, rather than sitting in the same position, as you will tend to tense up.

Credit: glebTv/Shutterstock

Credit: glebTv/Shutterstock

The treatment of text neck is, in fact, very simple; target the root of the problem! In this case, that problem is clearly excessive gadget use for an extended period of time. Consider cutting down on your smartphone use altogether and spending more time doing physical activities and socializing. That way, not only will you save yourself from a nasty neck ache, but you will also be more engaged with the world around you, rather than absorbed in a digital one, and can fully appreciate the beauty of the world around you.

References:

  1. Avoiding a pain in the neck – Harvard Health Publications Harvard Medical School
  2. Explore New York University
  3. Health Risks Of Using Mobile Phones – South University
  4. Cable News Network (CNN)
  5. The Guardian
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About the Author:

Ashish is a Science graduate (Bachelor of Science) from Punjabi University (India). He spends a lot of time watching movies, and an awful lot more time discussing them. He likes Harry Potter and the Avengers, and obsesses over how thoroughly Science dictates every aspect of life… in this universe, at least.

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