Dr Rohit Lahori
We all are attached to text messaging on our cell phones, 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.
All this has led to a new health problem starting from younger age group.Cell phones and tablets are changing the way we access information and entertainment. The use of these devices influences our posture and body mechanics in unhealthy ways that contribute to neck, upper back, shoulder, and arm pain.
Text Neck is the term used to describe the neck pains and damage sustained from looking down at your cell phone, tablet, or other wireless devices for a prolonged period of time. It is especially concerning because young, growing children could possibly cause permanent damage to their cervical spines that could lead to lifelong neck pain .There is special concern about the potential health impact on teenagers-among the most frequent text message users-whose spines are still developing.
Casuses of text neck
Typically, an adult human head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds (4.5 to 5.5 Kgs) . As the head tilts or angles forward, the cervical spine’s (neck) muscles, tendons, and ligaments support the head during movement thus putting excess burden on these structures.
Even the neck’s intervertebral discs are involved and help absorb and distribute the forces exerted on the neck.
While in a neutral position looking forward, the head weighs 4.5 to 5.5 Kgs
At 15 degrees of forward tilt may equate to a head weighing 27 pounds(12Kgs)
At 30 degrees forward, the strain on the neck equals a 40 pound head.
At 45 degrees forward equals 49 pounds of strain,
At 60 degrees forward equals 60 pounds(27Kgs)
Considering 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, . Teenagers spend even more time each day looking down at their devices, . 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 and can lead to spinal degeneration thus chronic neck pains
* Neck pain localized and spasm of neck muscles
* Upper back pain ranging from a chronic, nagging pain to sharp, severe upper back muscle spasms.
* Shoulder pain and tightness, possibly resulting in painful shoulder muscle spasm.
* If a cervical nerve becomes pinched, pain and possibly neurological symptoms can radiate down your arm and into your hand(Cervical Radiculopathy)
* Chronichead aches.
How is text neck prevented?
Postural awareness a positive first step
* Keeping the neck straight and your phone at eye level can help prevent text neck.. The same holds true for all screens-laptops and tablets should also be positioned so the screen is at eye level and you don’t have to bend your head forward or look down to view it.
* Take frequent breaks from your phone and laptop throughout the day. For example, set a timer or alarm that reminds you to get up and walk around every 20 to 30 minutes.
* If you work in an office, make sure your screen is set up so that when you look at it you are looking forward, with your head positioned squarely in line with your shoulders and spine.
* The bottom line is to avoid looking down with your head bent forward for extended periods throughout the day.
* Learn specific neck exercises bot stretching and strengthening along with Core Body Strength Exercises along with heat application and massaging
* Take a break from texting
* Number of applications are avalible on online stores to be downloaded in the cell phone that give alarming signals to users to avoid prolonged looking-down posture
* Ask your friend to take a photo of your upper body when you’re texting, then use the picture as the background image on your phone,”That will remind you to take breaks frequently in case of chronic neck pain not responding to all these measures you need to consult your doctor
(The author is a Pain Specialist)
Dr Rohit Lahori