Ishan Vaid is a marketing executive who recalls spending all day on the phone. A few months later Ishan began suffering from chronic neck pain. the neck’s base becoming tender and swollen. An appointment with the physician proved the early development of cervical spondylitis. To treat his pain as soon as possible Vaid was prescribed medication for pain. Vaid was also advised to keep his phone as close to the user’s eyes as often as is possible so that it does not strain muscle tension in the neck. “The doctor also recommended refraining from using phones for long periods of time, in addition to doing regular neck stretching exercises and exercise to strengthen the neck,” he says.
We all, like Vaid has talked on our phones countless times while working on other projects by cradling our phones between our shoulder and ear in order for the purpose. Although some might argue that this is multitasking at its finest however, the reality is that it’s a huge health risk for us. And it’s not just holding the phone in this way that is the reason. Simple tasks such as texting constantly can leave you with “tech neck” or “text neck” problem, as doctors frequently use to describe it.
Also, read:Are you breathing right?
“With the rising usage of mobile phones around the world, there’s seen a dramatic rise in the number of patients who visit the hospital complaining of neck discomfort, shoulder pain upper back pain , and unbalanced posture” mentions Dr Hitesh Garg. Head of Ortho Chiropractic Surgery Artemis Hospitals, Gurugram. According to Dr. Garg whenever we bend our necks constantly for long durations and then put an additional stress on the neck muscles cervical intervertebral discs, as well as joints that are known as the facet joint. “Scientific studies have shown that bending the neck forward by 15 degrees places approximately 12.5 kilograms of extra load on our neck. The weight increases to 16 kg in 30° or 27.2 kg when the neck is bent at 60°. The cervical intervertebral discs and facet joints have to bear the increased strain for extended durations, it causes disc degeneration that is very early and arthritis of the facet joints, also known as cervical spondylitis,” he says.
This opinion is also shared by Dr. Pramod Saini Director of the Senior Consultant Department of Spine & Deformity Correction, Jaypee Hospital, Noida. “The head’s weight can double or even triple when someone bends forward. Naturally, this results in the neck straining and, in turn it has a severe impact on the back. A poor posture when walking, standing, or standing does not cause upper back stiffness and pain, but it also can affect other areas of the spine including the lower and lower back,” says Dr Saini.
Although historically, neck pain is typically an problem for older people as the spine changes However, in recent times many youngsters and children are experiencing neck pain and other symptoms, says Dr. Harshal Bamb, Consultant Spine Surgeon, Global Hospital, Mumbai. An abnormally seated posture for long periods of time while using a cellphone can lead to excessive use of the muscles that support joints, and tendons in the neck. He says this can cause injuries from overuse and injuries and sprains. “Over the course of time, changes to joints and discs in the cervical spine can also result in an irreparable alteration in the alignment of neck joints, nerve compression and related syndrome. Many studies have demonstrated an association of using smartphones with neck discomfort and the early-onset of spinal degeneration” claims Dr. Bamb.
The most common symptoms of neck tech according to Dr. Garg, include neck pain that is axial as well as upper back pain, and an occipital headache. “This pain is typically an ache that is not severe, but it could be a very painful throbbing sensation at other occasions. The pain may also radiate to the arms and shoulders and be associated with Numbness and tingling” the doctor says.
What is the best way to treat it for you? “Prevention,” comes the rapid answer. The most effective way according to Bamb to ease the strain in the neck area is to ensure that you are in the correct posture, enhance ergonomics in work reduce the dependency on technology and strengthen supporting muscles. “All these things together will lower the risk of neck problems,” he adds.
It is more difficult to say than done. The use of mobile phones has grown significantly. Most of us now do our job on mobiles. Smartphones and tablets have become integral to our day-to-day lives. In order to bring these technology closer to our eyes the back gets round, our shoulders move towards the back while our head is tilted upwards. If we consider an average of between 2 and four hours spent with tablets or mobile phones every day, this amounts roughly 700- 1,400 hours a year in positions that can create excessive stress.
Dr Yash Gulati Senior Consultant Orthopaedics Joint Replacement, the Spine at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals Delhi suggests limiting screen time throughout the day, and taking part in some sort or neck spine exercises to help keep the stress off the neck. Additionally the Dr Ankur Nanda, Senior Consultant Spine Services, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, Delhi, recommends not to make use of mobile phones for more than 10-15 minutes at one stretch. “If the duration is greater than this, then we recommend our patients to make use of the large screen of the desktop. If you don’t have access an expansive screen, you could put the phone on the table with an cradle or mobile stand. It is important to position your mobile in an arrangement that your neck isn’t bent long at a certain position,” he says.
It’s been a month since Vaid was following the doctor’s recommendations. “Though it’s not possible to cut down on my time spent calling, I do my best to utilize a Bluetooth device to ensure my posture doesn’t suffer. Additionally, I try to perform 20 minutes of shoulder and neck exercises each day. Although my issue hasn’t entirely disappeared however, it has drastically decreased and I feel more relaxed,” he says.
Also look up: How to protect your shoulders from rotator-cuff injuries
Dos and Don’ts to avoid neck pains while using a cellphone
1. Bring the device up to eye level. This will reduce the curvature in your neck and help maintain a healthy spine posture.
2. Use the hands-free option for long conversations.
3. Mobile devices are only used for brief-term tasks, and make use of a computer for any task more extensive
4. Use frequent micro-breaks to stretch/move the neck as well as your back
5. Limit your use of devices to 20-minute periods
6. Think about making a call instead of using text messages for a long period of time.
7. Reduce the brightness of the mobile screen, and utilize reading mode as often as you can.
Courtesy Dr Savyasachi Saxena, Consultant ENT, Fortis Hospital, Noida
We understand how important it is to choose a chiropractor that is right for you. It is our belief that educating our patients is a very important part of the success we see in our offices.