Phones prove to be pain in the neck

By Efrosini Costa

Phones prove to be pain in the neck
Looking down at our phones for long periods of time is placing enormous strain on our spines and damage to our neck.

“Text neck’ is becoming an epidemic, according to new research by a US surgeon.

The posture we adopt when we stare at our smart phones and devices increases the stain on our necks and could cause excessive wear and tear – it may even lead to surgery to correct the damage.

“The neck is a wonderful thing, and it can have a full range of motion — but if you keep your head down for four hours a day, it is going to stress it,” said Kenneth Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine.

Published in the journal Surgical Technology International, Dr Hansarj paper analyses the forces felt by the neck through having to continually support the head at a particular angle.

His findings show that when the head is held at a 60 degree angle the spine feels the weight of the head as five times its actual mass.

The consequences of this modern affliction are already apparent to Dr Hansarj who says he has to treat this ailment on a daily basis.

“I’m a spinal surgeon, I see 100 patients a week; over time, I must have seen 30,000 patients or more,” he told reporters.

“It just incrementally became an issue, especially among young people. They were coming in with neck and back pain.”

One particular case was extreme, the doctor explains.

“There was a man, I had operated on him but he still had tremendous back and neck pain. I applied all my strategies but none worked. One day we were chatting and he happened to say: ‘I spend four hours a day playing games on my iPad’. I asked him to show me how he did it. His head was down at 60 degrees.”

Dr Hansraj taught him how to keep his vertical while he played on the iPad and the pain subsided and disappeared altogether the patient reported.

So do we do away with our smart phones altogether?

“My goal is not to scare people away from this wonderful technology. I would just say there are better ways to view devices. You don’t have to bend your neck; just hold your smartphone a bit higher and angle your eyes down,” Dr Hansraj says.

Interestingly this is not the first time we have been warned about the dangers of texting on our phones can cause.

In 2011 texting was found to be the cause of an increase in pedestrian deaths in the US, some towns even considered introducting fines for people who text while walking.

Add to this new diagnosis like “Blackberry thumb”, repetitive strain injury caused by texting and “iPad hand”, aches and pains caused by swiping and typing on a tablet.

It seems the list of ailments expands with every new piece of technology.


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