If you’re like most people, you probably hold your smartphone or tablet in your hand while glancing down to read received messages and compose new text messages several times throughout your day. If so, you could be increasing your risk of experiencing back and neck pain from repeated downward head motions, according to a new study published in Surgical Technology International equating such movements with an increased risk of developing spine problems.
Although sending a few quick texts might not seem like much, Los Angeles spine surgeons note that the craning motion associated with reading and writing text messages adds extra weight to the head that places an added burden on the cervical spine (neck) as your head moves forward, downward, or off to one side or the other. The study found that the more weight that’s added to your head, the greater the odds are that you’ll experience some degree of spine pain.
Your backbone has a natural curve designed to handle the stress associated with your daily movements. Repeatedly losing the spine’s natural curvature can increase wear and tear of the discs that cushion the bones in your neck and back, possibly leading to the need for corrective surgery to relieve nerve pressure resulting from this degeneration.
Since the “heads down” position isn’t unique to texting (it easily translates to playing video games on your smartphone and similar actions), it doesn’t hurt to learn some productive ways to counter posture problems. Consider making the following adjustments:
• Read your screen by moving your eyes downward while minimizing downward head motions
• When standing, bring your device up so that it’s eye level as you view it
• When possible, sit down while using your device (still keeping it eye level)
To put things into perspective, consider the fact that moving your head from its natural perch can add anywhere from 27 pounds to 60 pounds to the weight of your head, according to the study. While there’s no denying the importance of reading and sending messages in today’s busy world, making some adjustments to posture while doing so could do wonders for your spine.
If you’ve got persistent chronic neck pain, it could be time to schedule an appointment with a spine specialist who can diagnosis the cause and recommend treatment options for immediate and long-term relief. For more information, call (310) 828-7757 and request an in-person consultation with leading spine physician Dr. Hyun Bae at The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration.