Is your smartphone addiction giving you ‘text neck?’

With the rise of smartphones, everyone seems to be busy sending text messages, making calls, playing games, updating their Facebook status, composing a tweet, or posting a photo on Instagram on their gadgets. But all this activity is gradually making an impact on our health.

Research says smartphone users spend an average of at least four hours a day looking at their device which gives an individual about 1, 400 hours per year of too much tension on the cervical spine area.

According to Dr. James Carter, a leading Australian chiropractor, those who spend hours bending over their phones and tablets develop a condition called “text neck” or an abnormally curved spine. He also added that this condition, if not treated early, can lead to anxiety and ­depression as well as spinal damage.

via Dr. James Carter
X-ray of a 16-year-old girl who is developing a hunchback [via Dr. James Carter]

The doctor claimed he has been seeing lots of cases over the past couple of years, particularly in school children and teenagers.

Explaining further about text neck he said, “Instead of a normal forward curve, patients can be seen to have a backwards curve. It can be degenerative, often causing head, neck, shoulder, and back pain.”

via Dr. James Carter
X-ray of a 17-year-old boy with an abnormally curved spine [via Dr. James Carter]

According to him, several of his patients come in complaining about headaches. But he actually found that text neck could be the culprit. “They often fail a simple heel-to-toe test and tend to fall over,” he said.

He fears that this continuous practice may shift the spine to 4cm after repeated head tilts which will eventually require an operation to correct. In addition, the condition can gravely affect one’s emotions and behavior as the stress affects the release of Endorphins and Serotonin a.k.a. the happy hormones.

A 7-year-old patient with 'text neck' condition. Left: Before Treatment / Right: After Treatment [via Dr. James Carter]
A 7-year-old patient with ‘text neck’. Left: Before Treatment / Right: After Treatment [via Dr. James Carter]

Sammy Margo, from the UK’s Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, also supported Dr. Carter’s statement saying that text neck has become an epidemic. “When you drop your chin on to your chest for a long period, you are stretching the whole structure. Eventually, in conjunction with a sedentary lifestyle, it could lead to serious consequences.”

A normal cervical x-ray [via Dr. James Carter]
A normal cervical x-ray [via Dr. James Carter]

Dr. Carter gave suggestions on how to minimize the ‘text neck’ effect. One is by starting a healthy lifestyle and proper exercise. Another is to avoid working on your gadgets while lying down in bed or while sitting down.

Featured image via

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