Consisting of an assortment of bones, joints, and other essential parts, your spine absorbs some degree of stress every day from your regular movements alone. Because of the complexity of how the human spine is designed and the many factors that can contribute to pain, it’s not always easy to narrow down a source. For this reason, you may not realize some of the items you use on a daily basis may be among those contributing factors.
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t pay much attention to your posture when checking messages, playing games, or sending texts on your phone. If ignoring your posture while using your smartphone is a regular habit, all of the neck craning, referred to as “tech neck,” could strain the bones and discs in your cervical spine. The solution is to:
- Avoid leaning forward when using your phone
- Keep your phone at eye level when using it
- Watch your neck-shoulder-head alignment
Note: The same advice applies to tablets, smartwatches, and similar devices
It’s a common habit to stick a wallet in a back pocket. This isn’t a problem when you’re standing up. However, when you sit down, the bulk from your wallet could cause you to shift enough so added stress is placed on certain muscles that provide support to your lower back, which could contribute to disc issues. For times when you’ll be driving or sitting for a while, move your wallet so your weight is distributed evenly.
As with wallets, the problem with purses or bags is that too much stress is placed on one part of the body. In this case, it’s likely the one shoulder you tend to favor. The added stress can affect structures in the upper back and neck. Give your spine a break by:
- Decluttering your purse so it’s not so heavy
- Switching sides periodically
- Keeping your weight centered over your feet and your shoulder blades back and down so you’re not throwing off your alignment
- Wearing your purse or bag diagonally so your trunk absorbs more of the weight
4. Car Seats
Whether you happen to be commuting daily to and from work, running errands, or going on road trips, the time you spend in your car could be stressful on your spine if your seat isn’t adjusted properly. If you recline your seat back too far, you’ll be shifting your upper back weight to your lower spine. If you’re having difficulty finding that “sweet spot” for your spine in your car, consider rolling up a towel and placing it along the small of your back or using a lumbar support cushion.
5. Work Computers/Laptops
The computer you use at work all day may cause you to reach, lean forward, or turn in ways that stress your spine or overextend muscles that support it. The same thing can happen if you’re working in the office or at home with a laptop you put in front of you on a desk or coffee table. Possible solutions include:
- Opting for an ergonomically designed chair
- Positioning your monitor at eye level so you’re not turning your head as you type
- Making an effort to keep your head over your shoulders to retain spine alignment as you sit in front of your PC or laptop
- Placing your PC or laptop directly in front of you to avoid extending your neck up or down while typing and looking at your screen
Most of the spine-related pain typically associated with the above items is usually related to strained spine-supporting muscles. Although it’s also possible for back or neck pain related to repetitive movements, added stress, or poor posture to affect discs, vertebrae, and sensitive nerve roots, which is why discomfort that isn’t going away after making changes to how you use some of your everyday items should be reason enough to see a Santa Monica spine surgeon.
If you’re experiencing chronic pain in your spine, it’s best to get it checked out by a professional to determine if you need a surgical procedure such as decompression or anterior lumbar interbody fusion. Santa Monica residents can call The Spine Institute today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an in-person evaluation.