Science says “text neck” is a real affliction

The evidence that all that staring at screens we’re doing these days might have a negative impact on our health keeps piling up.

This month a report published in The Spine Journal cites evidence that there is an increase in patients with neck and upper back pain, which study authors believe can be attributed to poor posture during prolonged smartphone use.

Reuters reports that the authors say young people who should not yet have these problems are reporting “disk hernias and alignment problems.” (A certain amount of back and neck trouble seems to be expected when people get older.) This may be specifically because people look down when looking at phones, which is exacerbated with sitting, as opposed to standing, say the study authors Todd Lanman, a spinal neurosurgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and Jason Cuellar, an orthopedic spine surgeon at Cedars-Sinai. The downward angle is also worse when texting, versus other activities such as browsing, they reportedly write.

“In an X-ray, the neck typically curves backward, and what we’re seeing is that the curve is being reversed as people look down at their phones for hours each day,” Lanman is quoted as saying by Reuters.

“By the time patients get to me, they’re already in bad pain and have disc issues. The real concern is that we don’t know what this means down the road for kids today who use phones all day.”

In recent years, our constant use of technology has been blamed for aches and pains, depression, anxiety, sleep disruption, obesity, shortening attention spans…

… what were we talking about?…

And a 2015 article in the UK Telegraph also suggested that staring at your phone makes you age faster.

Dr Christopher Rowland Payne, Consultant Dermatologist at The London Clinic, told the Telegraph: “The problem of wrinkles and sagging of the jowls and neck used to begin in late middle age but, in the last 10 years, because of ‘tech-neck’, it has become a problem for a generation of younger women.” (Not for men, though, apparently)

Spas might consider offering massages and skin treatments focusing on specifically affected areas, if they don’t already.

Prevention tips to communicate to customers include:

  • Setting time limits for device use and taking a short break at regular intervals.
  • Using a tablet holder to keep your device at eye level and reduce forward positioning.
  • Sitting in a chair with a headrest.
  • Heeding warning signs and taking pain seriously, seeking help and taking steps to eliminate strain and other exacerbating factors.

(Image:Copyright: rido / 123RF Stock Photo)

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