INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Mobile devices are becoming a literal pain in the neck for thousands of Americans as doctors across the country report a rise in patients experiencing symptoms associated with “text neck.”
Analysts estimate the average adult spends about three to six hours a day on their mobile device. At the high end of that spectrum, that translates to roughly three months every year on mobile devices.
Because of the extended use, doctors are now reporting an increasingly high number of patients coming in with “tech-related injuries”.
“A lot of it is related to the use of mobile phones, technology, texting,” IU Health Dr. Shashank Dave said.
Dave says he sees roughly 20-25 patients per week coming in with tech-related injuries, the most popular of which are issues with the neck and spine.
“More often than not I find that it’s probably related to their mobile phone usage,” Dave said.
Dave says most injuries come from overuse, which is only exacerbated by the typical posture of mobile device users.
“We end up seeing this forward neck posture where the neck is protruding out and it places a lot of the muscles back here at a mechanical disadvantage. It places about three to five times more demand on the neck muscles in particular,” Dave said.
Dave says in many cases, the neck starts to lose its natural curvature which can lead to pain and further injury.
“Which can lead to procedures, injections, and so forth and it could all been prevented perhaps,” he said
However, tech-related injuries don’t stop at the neck. Chicago-based medical company Imagine-MD recently conducted a study titled “Tech Ailments in America,” which ranked the most googled searched tech-related injuries. The study found that nearly 30,000 people had searched for tech-related neck injuries in 2017. Even more looked for problems with their elbow or thumb.
The study identified what it called the “big five” of tech-related injuries. The list is as follows:
You can read more about the study here.
Fortunately, doctors and physical therapists say the cure for tech-related injuries is fairly simple and usually involves only two things. The use of proper posture, and cutting down on extended mobile device use.
“Keeping your back straight, your forearms supported. If you do have to text, think about standing instead of sitting. Knowing your limits, and also, just putting your phone down,” Dr. Dave said.
Doctors say by reducing the amount of time you spend on mobile devices, even if just for one fewer hour a day can be helpful in avoiding, or seeing a reduction in tech-related injury symptoms.
In extreme cases, Dr. Dave says physical therapy or even medical procedures may be necessary.