TEXT NECK SYNDROME: IS YOUR MOBILE PHONE DESTROYING YOUR SPINE?
Text neck or neck pain or cervical spine pain is the term used to describe the neck pain and damage sustained from looking down at your cell phone, tablet, iPad, kindle or other wireless hand-held devices too frequently and for too long.
Cell phones and tablets and a host of other modern mobile devices are changing the way we access information and entertainment. The use of these devices influences our posture and body mechanics in ergonomically dysfunctional ways that contribute to neck, upper back, shoulder, and arm pain.
Furthermore, poor posture while sitting, standing, walking, or in a static position can lead to more than upper body pain and stiffness which could result in transmission of the poor postures to other parts of the spine, such as the middle and low back. Eventual outcome is better imagined resulting in total collapse of the spine in some cases.
How common is text neck?
A recent study shows that 79% of the population between the ages 18 and 44 have their cell phones with them almost all the time—with only 2 hours of their waking day spent without their cell phone on hand.
The pervasive proliferation of mobile phone networks has contributed to transformation of communications in sub-Saharan Africa including Nigeria allowing Africans in general to skip the landline stage of development and jump right to the digital age.
No other device has become so influential and integral to human life in such a short span of time as the smartphone with additional benefit of being capable of more than just vocal communication as technology delivery improves.
Among the main findings of a Pew Research Center survey conducted on April 11 to June 5, 2014, among 7,052 respondents in seven sub-Saharan nations of Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda is that Cell phones have the added benefit of being capable of more than just vocal communication.
Is Texting Most Popular Use of Cell Phones?
Among cell phone owners across 32 countries in another research poll, 76% use text messaging via their phones. This is similar to the 83% of cell owners in the U.S. who text. And an additional 55% of mobile owners in these emerging and developing nations use their phones for taking pictures or video.
Whether they are using basic feature cell phones or internet-capable smartphones, most cell phone owners use their mobile devices for more than simple phone calls. A median of 76% in emerging and developing markets say they have used their cell phones to send text messages in the past 12 months. In a number of countries, texting is nearly universal. In the Philippines, Venezuela, Indonesia and South Africa, 95% or more of cell phone owners say they text regularly. By comparison, 81% of American cell phone owners report ever sending a text message, according to a 2013 Pew Research poll.
How much does a human head weigh?
Typically, the human adult head contains the brain, the skull, the eyes, the teeth, the facial muscles and skin weighing between 4.5 to 5.5 kilograms. As the head tilts or angles forward, the cervical spine’s (neck) muscles, tendons, and ligaments support the head during movement and when static; such as holding the head in a forward tilted position. Even the neck’s intervertebral discs are involved and help absorb and distribute the forces exerted on the neck.
How much does your head weigh when tilted forward?
In an article published inSurgical Technology International, Kenneth K. Hansraj, MD, Chief of Spine Surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, created a computer model of the cervical spine and reported that this model showed that the strain on your neck rises as the forward angle of your head increases.
• At 15 degrees of forward tilt may equate to a head weighing 12 kilograms.
• At 30 degrees forward, the strain on the neck equals a 18 kilograms head.
• The greater the angle, the greater the strain: 45 degrees forward equals 22 kilograms of strain, and 60 degrees forward equals 27 kilograms.
Now imagine the fact that the average person is holding his or her head forward to look at a phone or read a tablet for 2 to 4 hours a day, which is more common among teenagers, spending even more time each day looking down at their devices, according to Dr. Hansraj.
As you tilt your head, you also move your shoulders forward into a rounded position, which is another aspect of poor posture. All this excess strain creates extra wear and tear on the structures of the neck, upper spine and back, and contributes to/can lead to spinal degeneration.
In Nigeria where a range of reasons affect multiple mobile phones usage and ownership,CcHUB’s Mobile Experience Centre released a new infographic report as part of the “How I Use My Phone” series.
How I Use My Phone is a research project which aims to gather and share data on the pattern of mobile phone usage of different user demographics in Nigeria.
This edition focused on students from Nigerian tertiary institutions, in a bid to learn how they interact with their mobile devices.
Some key findings from the survey include:
• Students use their mobile phones mainly for social networking with Whatsapp, Blackberry Messenger and Facebook being the top 3 most used applications (28.4%, 19.4%, 13.4% respectively). Social networking is a major reason (89.6%) why students subscribe to internet bundles regularly.n
• 49.1% identified browsing on the web as the most common use of their internet data.
• There is a high percentage of multiple mobile phone users within the student demographic. This is reflected through the results of the survey, where 44% of mobile phone users own two or more mobile phones. Network issues, multiple sim cards and extra battery life were identified as top three reasons for multiple mobile phone ownerships.
Multiple mobile phones usage and ownership in Nigeria will furthermore aggravate already complex issues around effect of long term use ergonomically dysfunctional use of mobile devices.
Is your neck producing symptoms like these?
1. Neck pain ranging from a chronic, nagging pain to sharp, severe upper back muscle spasms.
2. Shoulder pain and tightness, possibly resulting in painful shoulder muscle spasm.
3. Pinched cervical nerve, turning to pain and possibly neurological symptoms that can radiate down your arm and into your hand.
4. Increased curvature in kids which could result into scoliosis.
How can you avoid Text Neck Syndrome?
1. Don’t bend your neck to look at a screen- this way you can maintain good posture, relieving your back and shoulders from the strain of being hunched over.
2. Hold your mobile device at about eye level- holding the phone closer to eye level helps maintain a healthy posture and puts less strain on the neck.
3. Practice exercises that strengthen your posture- Be sure to stretch often between long periods of extended use of devices. You can rotate your shoulders with your arms by your sides to relieve tension. You can also tuck your chin down to your neck and then look up – this helps to relieve some of the tension in your neck built from the common forward-down position you adopt when looking at your device.
What treatment options do you have?
Fortunately there are several treatment options available for you to deal with this ergonomically dysfunctional habit. First and foremost consider taking some ergonomically functional habits of proper neck alignment and posture as stated above as your line of preventive measures. Then you could take up
1. Massage Therapy
Your best option is Physiotherapy which will enable you to get rid of noxious fluids that could have built up in your neck and other degenerative changes that could be going on.
At Ageless Physiotherapy Clinic we have been able to put together highly specialized physical rehabilitation programs that could help you alleviate your pains and dysfunctional posture that are making it hard for you to have a productive life.
You can make that call today…….08139491652.