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The New Epidemic: Text Neck

The New Epidemic: Text Neck


In the early 2000s, it was carpal tunnel syndrome. Now a brand new technology-induced ailment is plaguing America’s population: text neck. Sustained through extended daily use of wireless devices, text neck is estimated to affect as much as 79% of the adult population.

Countless cell phone users who spend a great amount of time hunched over their devices checking email, texts and phone calls are now complaining of severe upper back pain, chronic headaches and spine curvature. Caused by improper support of the head and poor posture, text neck can lead to severe degeneration. “It also causes pain in the shoulders, hands, arms, and numbness and/or tingling feeling in the arms,” says Torrance Memorial Medical Center physical therapist Yolande Mavity, PT, MPT, GCS, LSVT. “Poor posture can also affect balance, causing cervicogenic dizziness.”

Do the health risks caused by mediocre posture outweigh the benefits of technological convenience? Since smartphone users spend about 2 to 4 hours (teenagers even more) on their cellular devices, the debate is only intensifying. In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 8- to 18-year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day to entertainment media. That’s more than 53 hours a week.

“Watch your children from an early age and introduce good posture as a habit,” says Mavity. “Low- and mid-back should be supported with a chair; put a pillow on lap or sit at a table to bring iPad or iPhone closer to your head, not bringing your head closer to your device.”

To ensure cervical spine health, refrain from bending the neck or hunching over to look at your device—your eyes can do the work just fine. Additionally, try neck and back strengthening exercises that focus heavily on posture and core strengthening, such yoga and Pilates. You can also try these stretches at home: www.tinyurl.com/TMMCergo. To ensure neck mobility, it’s integral to cervical spine health to engage in light stretching a few times a day, especially after a long stint at the computer or bent over a cell phone. Reap the benefits of having the world at your fingertips—but keep your head up!

Did you know Torrance Memorial offers yoga and Pilates classes? For more information, visit torrancememorial.org/classes or call 310-517-4711.

Categories: Health Links,Health Tip

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