21 Aug 2015
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Text Neck: Is your smartphone wrecking your spine?

By Shannon Williams

New research is claiming smartphones is causing stress in the cervical spine, due to posture and position of the head when using them.

The purpose of the research, conducted by Dr Kenneth K.Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitatio Medicine in New York, was to assess to forces incrementally seen by the cervical spine as the head is tilted forward, as billions of people use mobile phone devices across the world.

Text Neck, as it is often referred to, is the term used to describe the injuries and pain sustained from looking down at mobile devices for too long a period. 

The research says the weight seen by the spine ‘dramatically increases’ when flexing the head forward at carrying degrees. As the head tilts forwards, as it does when people are using their mobile devices, the weight of the head surges.

According to the study, people spend an average of two to four hours a day with heads tilted over reading and texting on their smartphones and devices. “Cumulatively this is 700 to 1400 hours a year of excess stresses seen about the cervical spine,” the study says. It is possible that a high school student may spend an extra 5000 hours in poor posture.

The research says loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine can lead to incrementally increased stresses about the cervical spine. These stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration, and possibly surgeries.

While it is nearly impossible to avoid the technologies that cause these issues, individuals should make an effort to look at their phones with a neutral spine and to avoid spending hours each day hunched over,” Hansraj says.

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