With everything available at the touch of a button, it’s no wonder that the smartphone has become an essential part of daily life in this society. Typically, people spend an average of two to four hours a day with their heads titled down at their cell phones, according to a study done by Kenneth K. Hansraj, M.D. of the New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine. In total, that adds up to 700 to 1400 hours a year spent reading and texting on smartphones and other devices. Teenagers and children are worse off, as Hansraj concluded the youth spends up to 5,000 hours a year looking at their phones. Hansraj’s study concluded that spending time on a smartphone has disastrous long term effects. Thanks to the smart phone, society is at the beginning of a massive wave of back and neck problems caused by the poor, hunched posture many people use while using a smartphone. The term “text neck” has been coined to describe the curvature of the spine caused by the hunching position many people have after spending many hours tilted over their phones. When the spine is flexed at various degrees, weight is added on. An adult head approximately weighs 10-12 pounds when held in the neutral position, according to Hansraj. At 15 degrees, 27 pounds is added to the spine. At 30 degrees, 40 pounds is added and at 45 degrees, 49 pounds is put against the neck.
At 60 degrees, which is the usual position many individuals have when looking down at their smart devices, a total of 60 pounds is added on. Imagine holding an eight-year-old child on your neck for several hours a day if you can’t grasp how much 60 pounds of weight feels on your spine. When the spine is held in a normal position, the spine curves forward; however, text neck causes the neck to curve backward, leading to head, neck, shoulder and back pain. This leads to increased stress and pressure on the cervical spine which may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration and possibly surgeries. However, these aren’t the only issues brought on by text neck. One of Australia’s leading chiropractors, Dr. James Carter, speculates that text neck is also responsible for depression and anxiety. Fortunately, there are certain measures that can be done to prevent text neck. Hansraj’s study reported that individuals should make an effort to look at their phones with a neutral spine, meaning ears should remain above the shoulders and the shoulders should be drawn back. Hansraj also advises individuals to avoid spending many hours of the day slouched over the glaring screens of their cell phones. The more this practice is implemented, the more the muscles build and ligaments strengthen. Before letting Candy Crush or Instagram ruin your spine, be mindful of your head positions while using your smartphone.
What is text neck?
Text neck is the term used to describe the injuries and pain sustained from looking down at wireless devices for too long. The symptoms associated with text neck are: chronic headaches upper back pain shoulder pain neck pain increased curvature of the spine
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1. This chart demonstrates the stress and weight put on the neck and spine as a result of staying hunched over a smartphone.