Gift-buying season is here, and on top of the wish list for most people is the latest tech gadget or gizmo. But some experts are concerned that more tech may equal more pain for frequent users. On average, Americans spend 2.7 hours per day communicating and socializing on their phones, and even more time looking down at their mobile devices for web searching and so many other uses.
Of the 6 billion people in the world, over 4 billion have mobile phones and over one billion text messages are sent every month worldwide.
According to a study at the New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitative Medicine, poor posture, especially when you’re on a cell phone or smart device, adds an amazing amount of weight around your neck.
Just how much load does that constant downward-looking gaze put on the neck muscles?
“When your spine is in neutral position, the head weighs about 10-12 pounds,” said Kenneth K. Hansraj, MD. “At 15 degrees [forward], the neck sees 27 pounds. At 45 degrees, it sees 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees, it’s 60 pounds.”
That’s 60 pounds of weight stress on muscles and nerves that are meant to handle 10-12 pounds of stress, and that much load can do a lot of damage over time.
“When you have such aggressive stressors on the neck, you get wear and tear on the spine,” Hansraj says. “You can develop tears within the disc, or even get a slipped or herniated disc.”
The end result? “We’re seeing tons of patients who have neck pain, and really when you look at the MRIs, they are fairly normal,” he says. “When we straighten them up and get them some physical therapy, they do a lot better.”
The upper part of the spine is normally curved to allow nerves plenty of space to pass through the neck and out into the body. But when you crunch that space down, it can cause major problems down the line.
If left untreated, Text Neck can result in serious permanent damage including:
- Flattening of the spinal curve
- Onset of early arthritis
- Spinal degeneration
- Spinal misalignment
- Disc herniation
- Disc compression
- Muscle damage
- Nerve damage
- Loss of lung volume capacity
- Gastrointestinal problems
In addition to reversing the amount of time you’re looking down, you can:
Stretch at home.
Get a massage.
See a chiropractor or physical therapist.
If you don’t start taking steps to reduce your risk of Text Neck, it will only get worse.
Sources: WebMD and Text Neck Institute