There's no getting away from it ..... we are all using smart phones and tablets to keep us connected more than ever before.
So-called ‘text neck’, is becoming a common description for a range of painful musculoskeletal injuries , and something that is set to grow at a phenomenal rate as a result of our ever increasing use of phones and tablets.
A recent report by Facebook showed that close to 80% of people aged between 18 and 44 have their mobile phones with them almost all the time – meaning that they only spend two hours each day (apart from when they are asleep!) without a phone or tablet device in their hands.
What do the therapists say?
According to NAT therapist Mandy Brown, who runs a busy clinic in the UK, she and her colleagues are seeing more and more patients in their practices complaining of severe upper back and neck pain, with almost all of this increase in client traffic being associated with over-use of mobile devices.
“These type of injuries are nothing new. It’s not just phones and tablets that make us look down. Many of us also look down to read or for every day tasks involved in our work activities. The issue that we're facing here is that the use of our phones, especially for constant checking-in for social media, means that we're suddenly looking down more than ever before!"
Osteopath Simeon Niel Asher, who has himself fallen victim to neck pain since upgrading to a large size smart phone and failing to take care of his posture (yes, he admits that he should know better!), sees an even more concerning development.
“In the past three years we've seen a dramatic rise in the number of young children being brought into our clinics with severe neck and shoulder pain. This is really something new. 10 years ago, children under the age of 14 accounted for a tiny proportion of our patients. This number has risen exponentially over the last 2-3 years."
"Text neck" is particularly concerning when it affects young people as growing children are likely to be at risk of permanent damage that could lead to lifelong problems with their necks, backs and shoulders.
Other studies have also suggested that "text neck" may even lead to the early onset of arthritis in the neck.
What are the symptoms and common signs of "text neck"?
"Text neck" typically causes chronic, nagging pain in the upper back and neck, severe upper back muscle spasms, as well as shoulder pain and tightness. In some cases young children suffer painful shoulder muscle spasms and pain radiating down the arms and into the hands.
So what to do about "text neck"?
Just about all healthcare professionals agree that prevention is the key. Simply by controlling and reducing the amount of time that we look down at our phones and tablets, will undoubtedly reduce the incidence of "text neck".
Wherever possible we should be trying to hold our phones at eye level to prevent us bending our heads forward, just as we have learned to do with computer screens and laptops.
We should also be re-training ourselves to take regular breaks from our phones and tablets. The concern however, is that whilst we may be able to get this message through to adults, it's a seemingly impossible task to get children and young people to understand the dangers without a massive educational effort.
Trigger Points and "text neck"
There is an undeniable connection between trigger points and "text neck". These are all the same trigger point issues that we've been seeing in postural issues for decades. The major difference here, is that these trigger points are forming in young people which is definitely a modern phenomena.
The good news is that treating these trigger points, especially in the young, can have a fast and profound effect on the painful symptoms. Taking your child to see a therapist for treatment is also an opportunity for the child to receive some education from the therapist visit, and some sound advice on changing habits.
Remember of course, that "text neck" is not restricted to young people only. If you work your way through your 20's, 30's, and 40's continually looking down at your phone to check your email and social media pages, you will undoubtedly be increasing the risk of developing some nasty trigger points in your postural muscles. left untreated, these may increase your risk of longer term and more serious injury further down the road.
This blog and video is intended to be used for information purposes only and is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or to substitute for a medical diagnosis and/or treatment rendered or prescribed by a physician or competent healthcare professional. This information is designed as educational material, but should not be taken as a recommendation for treatment of any particular person or patient. Always consult your physician if you think you need treatment or if you feel unwell. Do not attempt to replicate these techniques unless they fall within your professional scope of practice.
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