We all have a love affair with our cell phones. But I remember resisting getting one in the first place. I was perfectly content having a phone hanging on the wall at home that had a answering machine attached to it. Why would I want someone to get in touch with me if I wasn’t at home or at work I used to think. Man how times have changed. Now if I forget my phone at home I feel like I have left the house naked.
A 2015 survey revealed some rather startling usage rates and the amount of time people spend in front of some type of screen.
- All age groups spend as much time in front of a PC/laptop/tablet/phone screen as they do asleep in bed
- Adults 55 and older average 6.64 hours in front of a screen
- Adults 18-24 spend on average 8.83 hours in front of a screen!
- 84% admit to suffering from back pain in the past year
- This group loses more working days to back pain than their parents’ generation (1.5 days more)
- Their pain is more likely to be experienced in the upper back and neck
All of this screen usage has created a new modern day malady appropriately named “text neck”.
Ideally, the head should sit directly on the neck and shoulders like a golf ball sits on a tee. But when we begin to flex the neck forward, the weight of our head is more like a bowling ball than a golf ball. The head weighs about 12 pounds. If we have our neck flexed at a 15 degree angle, its weight effectively reaches 27 pounds. At a 45 degree angle, that weight becomes 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees – 60 pounds! To put that in perspective – that’s like having an 8 year old child hanging off of our neck!
This forward neck posture leads to strain on the discs and increases the potential for disc herniation. It places a tremendous strain on the ligaments in the neck, which may cause them to become lax – or loose, which can lead to joint instability. It places extra strain on the joints and may lead to early degenerative joint disease or arthritis. It causes your neck and upper back muscles to be in a constantly contracted state – which leads to muscle fatigue, tightness and usually an accompanied burning pain. It causes the muscles at the back of our skull called the suboccipital region to have to work overtime. When these muscles tighten they can contribute to tension headaches.
For stretches to help with text neck, click here!
To listen to the episode, here it is!
If you are interested in seeing Dr. Todd Wegerski as a patient, he can be found here.