Your neck bone’s connected to your smartphone
Friday, August 19, 2016
The first thing most people do when they wake up is check their phones. Throughout the day, your smartphone goes everywhere you do, and free moments are dedicated to scrolling through social media or holding texting conversations. The average person then remains on her phone until she fall asleep, where the cycle continues the next day.
While this sounds harmless, it actually has an effect on our health.
Today, our cellphones are more than just a device, but our connection to the world. Social media sites such as Snapchat have developed platforms surrounding daily life and ways to share experiences with the world. Even more so, they place a 24-hour stopwatch on how long you can view moments, forcing constant usage as to not miss anything.
It's no wonder we're starting to be negatively affected by this obsession.
Text neck is the latest health risk associated with constant smartphone usage. This condition is a result of bending over phones or electronic devices for an extended period. Our spines have a natural forward curve, but this constant positioning starts to form a backward curve.
The strain placed on your neck from looking down at devices frequently can ultimately cause head, shoulder and back pain. When you rest chin to your chest while looking at your phone, it actually stretches the spinal cord and brain stem. This affects respiration, heart rate and blood pressure.
Text neck has grown in concern as doctors are noticing more and more patients suffering from the condition. According to The Text Neck Institute, complaints associated with the condition are pain in the neck, shoulder, back, arm, fingers, hands, wrists and elbows, as well as headaches and numbness and tingling of the upper extremities.
In its most common form, text neck causes neck pain and soreness. Over time, it can lead to upper back or shoulder pain. Muscle spasms in the shoulder or upper back and chronic pain can be long-term effects.
Frequent hunching positioning alters the body's cervical spine, supporting ligaments, tendons and musculature, bony segments, and overall posture. The condition can also affect nerves and lead to sensations in arms and hands.
The younger generation, born into the age of smartphones, has proven to be affected most by text neck. Teens are experiencing pain normal to that of a middle-aged person because of constant smartphone usage.
By drooping their heads for long periods using their phones, preteens are causing early spinal damage that can affect their development. Doctors have reported patients as young as 7 showing signs of progressing hunchbacks and curved spines.
High school athletes are also affected, as text neck hinders their athletic abilities and lowers muscle strength. This puts players at a disadvantage because of the ripple effect it causes within the body. Weak muscles lead to weak shoulders and added pressure to shoulder joints. As a result, athletes may experience pain, limited range of motion and frequent injuries with lengthy recovery.
Left untreated, text neck can cause anxiety, depression, early onset arthritis or spinal damage. If continued, the strain brought on may require spinal surgery for correction. Texting may not be the only time we spend looking down, but because we tend to remain unmoved in that position for a long period, it has the greatest effect on our body.
According to a 2015 study, 79 percent of people ages 18 to 44 have their cellphones with them at all times, leaving only two hours spent without their cellphone on hand. Doctors suggest frequent exercise and strategic positioning of devices at eye level to force body movement and avoid text neck.
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