Los Angeles – A new study has warned from an increase in patients neck and upper back pain due to prolonged use of smartphones, according to Reuters Health.
The agency said that spine surgeons have reported an increase in patients with neck and upper back pain, likely related to poor posture during prolonged smartphone use.
The study published in The Spine Journal noted that some patients, particularly young patients who shouldn’t yet have back and neck issues, are reporting disk hernias and alignment problems, Reuters Health reported.
“In an X-ray, the neck typically curves backward, and what we’re seeing is that the curve is being reversed as people look down at their phones for hours each day,” study coauthor Dr. Todd Lanman, a spinal neurosurgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, was quoted by Reuters Health as saying.
“By the time patients get to me, they’re already in bad pain and have disc issues,” he told the agency. “The real concern is that we don’t know what this means down the road for kids today who use phones all day.”
In the study, Lanman and co-author Dr. Jason Cuellar, an orthopedic spine surgeon at Cedars-Sinai, noted that people often look down when using their smartphones, particularly when texting as compared to browsing online or watching videos.
“Previous studies have also found that people hold their necks at around 45 degrees, and it becomes even worse as they sit, versus standing,” the study team stated.
“For today’s users, will an 8-year-old need surgery at age 28?” Lanman asks. “In kids who have spines that are still growing and not developed, we’re not sure what to expect or if this could change normal anatomies,” he told Reuters Health.
Simple lifestyle changes are proposed by the two surgeons to relieve the stress from the “text neck” posture, including holding cell phones in front of the face, or near eye level, while texting. They also suggest using two hands and two thumbs to create a more symmetrical and comfortable position for the spine.