You probably use your smartphone, tablet, or another electronic device more than you actually realize. What would be your guess as to how many times you look at it to check your messages? A conservative estimate may be 40 or 50 times per day, right? The truth is if you double that number, you are probably still a little lower than the real number. This is according to research done by British psychologists. This study also revealed young adults generally use their phone approximately 5 hours a day. This is 1/3 of the entire time they are awake.
The study also leads to the conclusion that using our phones and tablets sometimes comes out of habit rather than necessity. Dr. House, a psychologist from Britain, agrees there is a great lack of awareness when it comes to technology. A study asked 23 students to answer questions about how much they actually thought they used their phones. An app was installed on their phone to keep track of this amount. Their findings showed there was no correlation between estimated and actual phone use. Those in the study checked their phones, on average, 85 times a day. Their estimate? Less than half of that number.
Ph.D. student, Caglar Yildrim, stated that due to the excessive use, it would be a good idea to research how this is affecting our thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes. Research reveals that technology can slow down one’s attention, memory, productivity, creative thinking, sleep quality, and increase stress levels. Another area that should be considered has more to do with physical health. Text neck is becoming a real issue for the current generation. What is this?
How Text Neck Leads to Neck Pain
The term text neck or tech neck is becoming more popular as the condition is becoming an epidemic. What these terms are referring to is the negative effect using electronic gadgets has on your neck, shoulders, and spine due to hunching forward at a particular angle. What are the effects?
- Neck, arm, and shoulder pain
- Sagging skin
- Drooping jowls
- Creases above the clavicle
- Frown lines
- Bags under the eyes
- Horizontal lines on the neck
- Fat prominences
Senior plastic and cosmetic surgeon at Fortis Hospital in Mumbai, India, Dr. Vinod Vij, states that when people bend down looking for long hours at any handheld device – smartphones laptops, or tablets – they are more prone to get wrinkles. In addition, the back, neck, and shoulders can become irritated and begin to have pain. Texting on a mobile phone can bring about this pain, along with headaches, numbness, and tingling in the upper limb and pain in the hands, arms, elbows, and wrists.
Dr. Thomas, Chief Surgeon and Medical Director at the Mumbai Cosmetic Surgery Institute, relates how the neck muscles become shortened and the posture actually changes when one uses smartphones regularly. He also tells how it is the gravitational pull on the skin that results in sagging skin, loose jowls, a double chin, and marionette lines – vertical lines from the lips to the chin. Collectively, these signs are referred to as smartphone face.
Why Neck Pain Happens
The human head can weigh as much as 14 pounds, and as it bends forward to look down, it increases the weight exerted on the cervical spine. The weight increases the further the head moves forward. For example, at a 15-degree angle, the weight is 27 pounds; at 30 degrees it is 40 pounds; at 45 degrees it is 49 pounds; finally, at 60 degrees it is 60 pounds of weight put on the spine. What is it like to carry 60 pounds of pressure on your neck? Imagine carrying an 8-year-old around your neck for several hours a day! As mentioned above, the average person can spend up to 5 hours a day hunched over reading emails, texting, or checking social media.
Therefore, we can see how text neck can lead to wear and tear on the spine earlier than expected. Degeneration of the spine and even a reason for surgery are soon to follow if the trend continues. Medical experts have been trying to warn people for years. Some indicate that for every inch the head tilts forward, the pressure on the spine doubles. What does this mean for the spine? Stretching the tissue for a long period of time can lead to soreness and inflammation. This can cause muscle strain, herniated discs, pinched nerves, and eventually loss of the natural curve of the neck. It can be likened to bending a finger all the way back and holding it there for an hour or so.
This type of poor posture can lead to a reduction in lung capacity by as much as 30 percent, not to mention, headaches, neurological disorders, depression and heart disease. So, what can be done?
How Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care Can Help
One suggestion to help with text neck and neck pain is to try to keep your device at eye level when you are looking at it. Avoid the tendency to bend the neck forward and look down. This is something that can be learned and become a good habit. Another good thing to do is regularly visit your local upper cervical chiropractor. We have been specially trained to care for the kind of issues directly affecting the upper part of the neck. If a misalignment exists in this area, you can have even more problems than mentioned above as the brainstem is directly affected. This leads to improper signals being sent to and from the brain and body and can be the underlying cause of a number of health issues in addition to neck pain. We use a gentle method to help keep your neck in the best possible shape.