Texting Posture

Leads to Patient Pain

Dr. Mehul Desai on tech-related neck pain. 

As a physician, the number of patients I see with neck pain related to the use of our ever-shrinking phones and laptops continues to increase. I find that the position that people find themselves in when using these devices significantly contributes to the worsening of their posture and subsequent neck pain. The #1 focus of my work with patients with neck pain is improving their posture. I believe that a product such as Eyeforcer will help the patient improve their posture, reduce their pain and increase their function. 

 

- Dr. Mehul Desai,

Medical Director of the International Spine,

Pain and Performance Center

 
Text-Neck Syndrome

"Text-neck" or "Tech-neck" are terms used to describe the pain or damage done to your cervical spine as a result of looking down for a prolonged period when using mobile technology, i.e. cell phone, tablet, or other wireless devices. Frequently using mobile devices can lead to poor posture which can eventually lead to neck pain or "Text-Neck". This could eventually lead to chronic problems due to early onset adult arthritis. 

 

The symptoms associated with "Text-Neck" include:

  • Upper back pain ranging from a chronic, aching pain to severe upper back and muscle spasms.

  • Pain in the shoulder and tightness, possibly resulting in painful shoulder muscle spasms.

  • There is also the possibility of a cervical nerve becoming pinched, causing pain and possible neurological symptoms including:

    • Radiating pain down the arm.

    • Radiating pain into the hand.

    • Numbness and Tingling in the arm(s) and/or hand(s).​

In addition to poor posture, tilting the head forward to use a smartphone or tablet affects the spine directly. Tilting the head forward to 15 degrees places about 27 pounds of force on the neck which happens regularly during the day. But this increases to 40 pounds at 30 degrees, 49 pounds at 45 degrees and 60 pounds at 60 degrees which can cause tremendous damage in the long term. Damage caused by untreated text neck can be similar to occupational overuse syndrome or repetitive stress/strain injury.

Treating Text-Neck

Prevention is key when treating text-neck. Here are some tips to help avoid these symptoms:

  1. Hold your cell phone and all mobile devices at eye-level as much as possible. Devices should be positioned so the screen is at eye level and you don't have to bend your head forward or look down to view it.

  2. Set a timer for every 20-30 minutes to take frequent breaks from your devices throughout the day. Stand up, walk around or stretch during your breaks.

  3. For those working in an office setting, make sure your monitor or screens are set up at eye level, with your head positioned squarely in line with your shoulders and spine

  4. Try to be mindful of your posture throughout the day. Strengthening your core muscles will help you maintain proper posture.

Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome, also called Digital Eye Strain, is a group of eye and vision-related issues that are caused by prolonged use or computer, tablet or mobile devices. Many people experience eye discomfort and vision issues when looking at digital screens for long periods of time. 

 

Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome:

  • eyestrain

  • headaches

  • blurred vision

  • dry eyes

  • neck and shoulder pain

 

Individuals experience these visual symptoms depending on the level of their visual abilities and the amount of time spent looking at the device screen.

Most of the symptoms are temporary but some individuals may experience continued reduced visual abilities, such as blurred distance vision, even after stopping work at a computer. If nothing is done to correct the problem, the symptoms will continue to recur and possibly worsen with continued digital screen use. 

 

Prevention or reduction of any eye discomfort or vision problems associated with Computer Vision Syndrome or Digital Eye Strain includes taking the following steps:

  • control lighting and glare on the device screen

  • establish proper working distances

  • establish proper posture for screen viewing

  • assure that minor vision problems are corrected

Cause of Digital

Eye Strain

 

Viewing a digital screen often makes eyes work harder due to the high visual demands of computer and other digital screen device viewing which makes many people susceptible to the development of vision-related symptoms.

If vision problems are left uncorrected it can increase the severity of Computer Vision Syndrome symptoms.

Looking at a digital screen is much different from reading a printed page. Often the letters on the computer or handheld device are not as precise or sharply defined, the contrast of the letters vs. the background of the page is reduced, and the presence of glare and reflections on the screen increases viewing difficulty.

 
Gameboy Disease
 

The eye focusing and eye movement required for digital screen viewing can place additional demands on the ocular system.

 

Additionally, having even minor vision problems can significantly affect your comfort and performance on a computer or using other digital screen devices. Uncorrected vision problems can significantly contribute to device-related eyestrain.

Even individuals who have a glasses or contact lens prescription may continue to have difficulty viewing specific distances of their digital screens. Some people have to change their viewing position because their glasses aren't designed to look at a computer or digital screen. Changing postures to view the screen can result in muscle spasms or pain in the neck, shoulder or back.

 

Those at greatest risk for developing CVS or Digital Eye Strain are people who spend two or more continuous hours using a digital screen device every day.

Gameboy Disease – also called Gameboy Back and Tech Neck – is a newly defined condition caused by the constant use of gadgets, such as smartphones, tablets and other gaming systems. Symptoms can include poor posture, neck pain, back pain, headaches, and vision problems.

 

This condition affects adults, but it’s more dangerous for developing children. According to the Dutch orthopedic surgeons who coined the term “Gameboy Back”, a child’s spine is like a bonsai tree. If you force it in a direction for a prolonged period of time, it will grow that way.

To be diagnosed with Gameboy Disease, a patient has to have:

  • A history of gadget use for at least 2 years.

  • Poor posture in the Cervical Spine.

  • And at least one of the following:

    • Neck and/or Back Pain

    • Headaches

    • Vision Problems

    • Mood Issues

 

If left untreated, Gameboy Disease can result in complications like:

  1. Obesity

  2. Depression

  3. Spinal disc herniation

  4. High blood pressure

Dutch spinal surgeons, Dr. Piet van Loon and Andre Soeterbroek, coined the term “Gameboy Back” after noticing an increase in the number of children (aged eight to 18) with back problems.

The condition can cause disability in early adulthood and later life. It also puts significant pressure on health care systems and increases health care costs. With technology like Medical Wearable Solutions’: EyeForcer, prevention can start as early as age three.

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