IS YOUR MOBILE DEVICE BEING HELD CORRECTLY?
While mobile devices were designed to help us to keep in communication with colleagues, friends and family going while on the move. Smartphones have got us all glued to our screens. Considering that our children, Gen Z and Gen Alpha are basically born with a smartphone in hand, we thought it would be good for you to see the adverse effects smartphones can potentially have on your child’s spine and therefore overall health.
Look at your child next time you see them gaming or texting. Where is their device and what position is their neck in?
WHAT IS TECH NECK?
A very alarming medical problem that we see walking into our clinic and also popping up on x-rays has been termed ‘tech neck’. This is especially prominent in teenagers as it stems from looking down continuously for things like texting, gaming and computer work. The definition of Tech neck is overuse syndrome of the upper body by continually looking down with the head at mobile devices.
The part of the spine that we’re addressing in this blog is the Cervical Spine, which is your neck. A healthy Cervical Spine Curve forms slightly backwards C-shape (cervical lordosis) curve, which allows for equal distribution of weight through our neck joints and cervical discs. Excessive looking down can cause the curve to change its shape from a backward C-slant to a straightened (military neck), or reverse curve, causing abnormal loads through the cervical vertebra and could lead to disc degeneration, herniation, headaches, shoulder stiffness and pain. How can excessive looking down potentially cause so much damage?
While standing in a neutral state, the force to the cervical spine is about 4,5kg to 5,5kg – which is the weight of the average human head. The force to the cervical spine increases as the neck moves forward and down at different angles. The force increases by about 12kgs at a 15-degree angle, 18kg at a 30-degree angle, 22kg at a 45-degree angle and 27kg at a 60-degree angle. This 60-degree angle is equivalent to carrying 6 heads on your shoulders.
You’re probably wondering, ‘What is excessive looking down?’. Research has shown that the average smartphone users spend up to 4 hours a day staring at their device. Children are said to spend more than double that time on their social accounts daily. The means an average of 1 400 hours a year is spent putting excess stress on one’s cervical spine. This could potentially cause the spine to shift by up to 4cm.
DO YOU HAVE TECH NECK?
The next question, of course, is, ‘How do you know if you or your teenager may be suffering from Tech Neck?’ Headaches, neck pain, backache and arm pain and numbness are some of the symptoms associated with Tech Neck. It needs to be said however that Tech Neck cannot be assumed when a patient is experiencing neck pain and backache. There are other possibilities to consider before jumping to this conclusion which includes genetics and ageing. It’s wise to let a Chiropractor, or your health care professional, assist you with this diagnosis. Google doesn’t always have all the answers.
HOW DO YOU PREVENT TECH NECK?
The simple solution is to keep your phone up at eye level with your head in a neutral position and avoid tilting your head down for extended periods of time. Having good posture involves keeping your ear aligned with your shoulder and if you have to look down at your device then focus on keeping the correct posture and rather just look down with your eyes.
SUSPECTING YOU MAY BE A CASUALTY OF TECH NECK?
We suggest the following: