How Mobile Devices are Wrecking Our Spines

Nearly everyone has a smartphone or mobile device these days, and while there is some merit to this technology by keeping us more connected – at least virtually – it is wreaking havoc on our bodies. When you look at the posture that people assume when texting, reading email, or browsing social media while on their mobile device or smartphone, you will see their head bent forward and rounded shoulders. They typically hold the device either at chest level or waist level meaning that their hands are together, forming an almost crouch position.

This is very bad for the spine but it creates problems for other parts of the body even beyond the spine. Let’s take a look at some of the common issues that come with bad smartphone posture.

Text Neck

The more you tilt your head downward (just as you do when looking at a smartphone), the more pounds of pressure you put on your neck and back. Your spine supports the weight of your head. The more it is thrust forward, looking down, the heavier your head gets. Consequently, text neck can result in pain in the neck and upper shoulders, headaches, and a change in the curve of the neck. Like other overuse issues, such as tennis elbow or runner’s knee, it can also lead to problems that can get worse over time, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Herniated and bulging discs
  • Muscle strain
  • Pinched nerves
These problems are starting to show up more in younger and younger patients. and many Doctors are seeing many young people with this problem, some even as young as 8 years old.

Some patients report pain while others feel pressure, and others feel tightness. Sometimes the pain will spread throughout the body or from the neck to the arms and hands.

Forearm and Wrist Pain

Even the way you hold your phone in your hands can cause problems. Since you keep your hand in one position for long periods of time your muscles never have a chance to relax. You have several muscles engaged to do this: the forearms, the wrist, and the neck.

If you are experiencing pain, sometimes shooting, in your elbow or wrist your smartphone use may be the culprit. So put the phones away or leave them at home.

Sore Upper and Lower Back

As your neck struggles to support your head which is rolled forward, it stands to reason that you will experience back pain. In fact, both upper and lower back pain have been attributed to smartphone use.

Think about the muscles that run along your spine. They help stabilize it and help control and support your head. When you hunch over you strain those muscles in your upper back. What you may not realize is that similar strain is being put on the muscles in your lower back as well.

SMARTPHONE Thumb

The muscles in your hand are very small but they can cause you a great deal of pain if you frequently use a mobile device. As you type on the keyboard of your smart phone, it can cause problems with tendons and ligament as well as the muscles.

This repetitive stress of the body is caused daily by people who stay hunched over their small phone screen. The repetitive movement of your thumb as it manipulates the device can cause inflammation in the thumb and hand.

Headaches from Tension in Neck and Back

One of the most common ailments associated with mobile device usage is headaches. These headaches can come from tension in the neck, strained muscled in the back, or overworked muscles through the hand and arm into the shoulder. It can also come from eyestrain caused by staring at the screen for extended amounts of time, looking at tiny text.

There is no doubt that mobile device usage is becoming a serious problem in our society today. While there are the people who text while driving or while walking, posing a significant threat to their own and others’ safety, what they are doing to their own bodies is enough to cause alarm.

Chiropractic care can ease the pain and reverse a good portion of the damage that has been done, but if when people continue with the same bad habits the treatment is only temporary. There needs to be a focused effort made to pull people out of their mobile devices, at least a portion of the time, to minimize the structural spinal damage they are doing to themselves.

PAY ATTENTION FOR PREVENTION
The best way to prevent text neck and related problems is to limit the use of your phone. If you do check your device frequently, use your arms to hold your phone directly in front of your face rather than angling your neck to look at the screen.
You can also perform these exercises to relieve tension in the neck and shoulders:
  • Roll your head gently from side to side.
  • Press your head against your hands, first pressing forward, then pushing your hands to the back to press backwards.
  • Stand about 2 feet back from a corner. Place your left arm on the left-side wall and your right arm on the right-side wall, then lean in as far as possible without any pain. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to work your shoulder muscles.
If you have neck, shoulder or back pain that’s causing problems, the caring spine healthcare providers at Woolston Wellness Center can help. To learn more call 480-556-6797.