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Text neck: a growing concern

by | November 2, 2019 5:00 am

Last Updated: October 30, 2019 at 11:59 am

By VICKI BROWN
vbrown@lowcountry.com

October is National Chiropractic Month. The American Chiropractic Association is concerned about a new phenomenon called “Text Neck.”
Text neck is neck and back pain associated by constantly looking down at cell phone, computer or other electronic devices. In addition, it can lead to chronic upper back pain that can range from a nagging ache to acute muscle spasms to pain in the shoulders.
The human head weighs about 10-12 pounds. But as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. Those who are constantly looking down at a cell phone or tablet can cause neck and upper back issues. Some doctors even believe that this can lead to arthritis.
Dr. John Gallagher of Colleton Chiropractic is very concerned about this growing epidemic.
“We are seeing more and more adolescents between ages 10 and 14 in the office with neck pain caused by text neck. Your head is the center of gravity for your body, and for every inch your head leans forward, you are putting anywhere from 10-20 pounds of pressure on your neck per square inch,” said Gallagher. “That can cause headaches, backaches and even breathing problems that can increase asthma symptoms.”
He added, “Not only is my office treating teens for text neck, but we are also seeing more professionals come in. These are typically people who use laptops and iPads. They slouch and look down to use these devices in their laps.”
Dr. Wayne Memminger of Memminger Chiropractic Center said, “The first thing I address when I first see a patient is range of motion, inflection, extension, how limited the patient’s movements are — and whether or not the patient is suffering from text neck. Then I can assess the patient’s condition and fix the problem.
“Text neck can certainly grow worse with teens carrying heavy book bags, playing sports, sitting on their bed texting and slouching,” said Memminger. “Because of all of this, no child is too young to be seen by a chiropractor.”
With this problem increasing, most chiropractors in Colleton County are finding that they are busy dealing with more text neck issues.
“Text neck is definitely a growing problem,” said Dr. Stuart Eder of Eder Chiropractic Center.
“As you flex and look down, the pressure is increased in the base of your neck. By the time your head drops forward at a 45-degree angle, pressure in your neck increases to 50 pounds of pressure on your neck and upper back,” said Eder.
“My office is seeing many more kids ages 10-12 and preteens than we used to see,” added Eder. “I now have to teach corrective posture exercises in the office. We do a lot of that every day.
“This problem will absolutely grow worse. Everything involved with flexing posture — such as the number of hours using a computer, driving with your head forward — causes you to hunch your shoulders and hang your head. This is called ‘closed shoulders,’ and driving and using mobile devices can cause pain that can eventually travel down your spine and to all areas of the back. Children and teens are just as susceptible,” he said.
While people sometimes seek medication to stop the pain, in actuality, medication is not helping, just disguising the problem.
“Constantly putting a lot of pressure on your neck and spine leads to nerve pain, disk problems, spine misalignment, and then permanent damage,” said Memminger.
Parents need to be concerned about the amount of time their children are spending on video games, laptops and cell phones. “Use preventative health care and monitor your and your child’s screen time,” said Gallagher.
Check the “settings” icon on the phone and go to “screen time” to see how long a child has been staring down at the phone. More than likely, that time will be too long. And parents should refrain from using the phone as a babysitter which can start a life-long posture problem.
So, what can you do?
Hold your phone at eye level. Sit up straight and don’t slouch. Limit time on the cell phone. Use your laptop, tablet or iPad on a cushion in your lap or at a table.
Be aware about how you use your phone and devices to keep your neck, back and spine healthy.

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