With a host of electronic devices for gaming, texting, and internet access, and with handheld tablets and smart phones readily available, proper ergonomics and chiropractic care become even more necessary.
Those who bend their head for several hours to text, or to look at smart phone and tablets, can be in for a real “pain in the neck”, so to speak. Those hours of “Angry Birds” and Facebook updates can build up to a serious repetitive stress injury. Even non-gamers, such as those who rely on smart phones to check work e-mails, or e-reader users, are at risk of neck and back strain. The result: “text neck”. Chris Cornett, MD, noted that “they end up holding their neck and upper back in abnormal positions for a long period of time” leading to “postural pain”. The problem comes, ergonomically, from “excessive strain on the spine from looking in a downward position”. The resulting pain can stress the body and cause headaches and fatigue. Every motion in this abnormal position puts “stress on the neck…beyond just the weight of the head”. This can lead to long-term complaints in the back, especially in the joints and disks.1
If someone wants to text, game, or otherwise use a handheld device, it is important to take breaks and change positions often. It is best if the device is not in the lap; ideally, it should be at eye level. Overall physical fitness can help. “Having a strong, flexible back and neck” can help with recovering from these stressors.2
Gaming, Texting, and Chiropractic Care and Treatments
Dr. Dean Fishman is the Florida chiropractor who first coined the phrase “text neck”. When seeing a teenage patient with neck pain and headaches, he noticed her posture while she used her smart phone. A human head is about 10 pounds in a neutral position; when tilted, the pressure on the spine doubles for every inch of movement. A smart phone in the lap means that “your neck is holding up what feels like 20 or 30 pounds”. Stretched tissue, for long periods of time, leads to inflammation, and eventually pinched nerves, disk herniations, and muscle strain. In the long run, this can cause a flattening of the “natural curve of your neck”, according to Dr. Tom DiAngelis. 8-18 year-olds are spending about 7 ½ hours daily using “entertainment media”. In addition to the neck and back pain, there is nerve pain and metabolic problems. Slouching can actually “reduce the capacity of your lungs…by 30%”. People should periodically go for a walk or exercise their shoulders by rolling them.3 In addition, regular chiropractic care and adjustments can help people who are suffering from back and neck pain. Chiropractors can be a great defense against “forward head posture”. There is even an app for “text neck”, developed by the Text Neck Institute, “to remind users when they are, or are not, using good posture”.4