Everyone is texting these days; from the toddler just learning the ropes to the elderly of families who use the technology to keep up with the times. Intrinsically, “text neck” is a fairly new phenomenon that is associated with staring at a smartphone—the ways millions do for hours every day, according to research published by Kenneth Hansraj in the National Library of Medicine . Text Neck is a world-wide health concern, affecting millions of all ages and from all walks of life. Widespread overuse of handheld mobile technology is resulting in a harmful and dangerous physical condition on the human body.
In terms of numbers, of the 6 billion people in the world, over 4 billion have mobile phones. As such, texting has become the dominant form of communication with over one billion text messages that are sent every month worldwide. Here at home, Americans spend 2.7 hours per day communicating and socializing on their phones, and even more time looking down at their cell phones for web searching and many other uses. While 75% of the world’s population spends hours daily hunched over their handheld devices with their heads flexed forward, they are all in constant danger and at risk of developing text neck. This frequent forward flexion causes changes in the cervical spine, curve, supporting ligaments, tendons and musculature, as well as the bony segments, commonly causing postural change.
Among the many grievances associated with text neck, people have complained about pain felt in the neck, shoulder region, back, arm, fingers, hands, wrists and elbows, as well as headaches, numbness and tingling of the upper extremities .
Science Behind the Injury
Summarized from the Washington Post, the human head weighs about a dozen pounds. However, as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15 degree angle, the weight is increased to about 27 pounds; at 30 degrees, it’s about 40 pounds; at 45 degrees, it’s about 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees, it’s about 60 pounds. To put that in perspective, imagine carrying an 8 year old around your neck for several hours a day. Some experts even say that for every inch that the head tilts forward, the pressure on the spine doubles.
Tom DiAngelis, president of the American Physical Therapy Association’s Private Practice Section, told CNN in 2013 that the effect is similar to bending a finger all the way back and holding it there for about an hour. “As you stretch the tissue for a long period of time, it gets sore, it gets inflamed,” he said. IT can also cause muscle strain, pinched nerves, herniated disks and, over time, it can even remove the neck’s natural curve. And, it’s a risk for about 58 percent of American adults who own cell phones. Another risk for this population of smartphone users is the possibly of reduced lung function. In fact, experts say it can reduce lung capacity by as much as 30 percent.
How to Prevent Text Neck
“While it is nearly impossible to avoid the technologies that can cause these issues associated with text neck, individuals should make an effort to look at their phones with a neutral spine and to avoid spending hours each day hunched over,” according to research in the CNN article .
Furthermore, Kenneth Hansraj gave the Today show tips for mobile device users to avoid this pain:
- Look down at your device with your eyes, there is no need or reason to bend your neck.
- Exercise can help your neck become stronger due to the habit of persistent bending to see your smartphone. Move your head from left to right several times. Use your hands to provide resistance and push your head against them, first forward and then backward. Stand in a doorway with your arms extended and push your chest forward to strengthen “the muscles of good posture,” Hansraj said.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
It’s important for people to be cognizant of where your head is in space, relevant to when you are using your smartphone or other mobile device. It’s okay to enjoy these devices, but it’s imperative to make sure your head is up. The numbers of people who are using technology to communicate each day will only grow as technology continues to connect people throughout not only the United States, but also the world. Moreover, protecting your neck when using the technology is a surefire way to make sure that this practice does not have to be painful or lead to deformity.
While there is no true legal recourse for such a phenomenon, the lawyers at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA are experienced in dealing with accidents or injuries that do affect the neck. As such, we feel that it is important for victims of neck injuries to be aware of preventable situations, so that the medical expenses and other losses do not take a toll on your life. If you are injured by the negligence of another person however, we are here to help. Contact us for more information at (727) 451-6900 today for a free scheduled consultation and evaluation.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765