We will discuss the significance of the 2017 study published in The Spine Journal called “Text Neck: An Epidemic of the Modern Era of Cell Phones.”
This recent study shows nearly 80% of the population between ages 18 and 44 have their cell phones with them almost every waking minute, with only 2 hours of their day spent without them on hand. This new trend has led to an entirely new diagnosis known as “text neck”.
The stress of constantly looking down at a phone can lead to a host of problems. This has made the job of a Chiropractor even more important in preserving the health and quality of life for the current and next generation. This study evaluated the seriousness of the technology age and how detrimental cell phone use can be on the structure of the spine and nervous system. The findings are remarkable and needs to be effectively communicated.
Spine surgeons have been noticing a rise of patients in their offices complaining of neck and upper back pain.
Extensive cell phone use and postures cause spondylitic changes consistent with an aged spine, but they are now being found in younger age groups. Findings include disc herniations, kyphotic alignment, and abnormal imaging studies.
The sagittal cervical spinal alignment postural profile of the average person typing a text message on their phone shows:
▪ Their cervical spine is in a position of 15- 60° of flexion.
(The average degree of cervical flexion while texting is 45°)
▪ Smart phone users were more likely to maintain greater neck flexion angles while texting compared with web browsing or video watching.
▪ Greater flexion angles were maintained during sitting compared to standing.
▪ While in a neutral position, the head weight on the neck is about 10 to 12 pounds.
▪ Flexing the head and neck for 15° increases the weight on the cervical spine to 27 pounds.
▪ Flexing the head and neck for 30° increases the weight on the cervical spine to 40 pounds.
▪ Flexing to head and neck for 45° increases the way on the cervical spine to 49 pounds.
▪ Flexing the head and neck forward 60° increases the weight on the cervical spine to 60 pounds.
It is likely these increased stresses on the cervical spine result in accelerated cervico-thoracic disc degeneration.
The study of over 7000 young adults, age 20-24, over a five-year period show that persistent neck pain and upper back pain is associated with time spent text messaging.
It has now become clear that repetitive texting, or similar activity while using a forward-flexed neck position, may lead to neck pain or “text neck”.
These authors proposed that there are significant increases in disc pressure during flexion, and chronically increasing disc pressure likely contributes to degeneration and hernias.
Persistent, prolonged forward flexed neck positions may lead to anterior ligamentous contractures, accelerating cervical disc degeneration, and cervical kyphosis.
These findings are significant and must be taken seriously. The evidence continues to pile up, revealing the devastating effects of consistent long-term cell phone use. This also validates the necessity of Chiropractic for a time such as this. Chiropractic is one of the most important and effective interventions to minimize and reverse the negative effects of texting.
One huge element of this research which was not evaluated was the quality of life and health for individuals who text or use their phones more often than others. Because of the spine’s intimate relationship with the central nervous system, much more is at stake when spinal abnormalities exist. If the spine is altered in its position or mobility, the nervous system becomes imbalanced. This can lead to a host of unwanted symptoms ranging from problems with immunity, digestion, attention, concentration, energy, breathing, headaches and even heart problems.
Many steps can be taken to prevent or counteract the unwanted effects of technology. Chiropractic care is a vital piece of the puzzle.
Watch the video on our website that demonstrates how to use a cell phone properly!