This Blog Covers:
- More reports have come out regarding the negative health effects of smartphones, tablets, and other digital gadgets for the spine.
- In a previous blog, we wrote about the dangers of “texting neck” (http://www.americanspinegroup.com/blog/texting-can-put-stress-spine) for patients who are constantly looking down at their cell phones or tablets.
- In this blog, the spine specialists at American Spine discuss how excess gadget use leads to hunched backs and other health issues.
In January 2015, we wrote a piece about the dangers of texting for the neck and spine (see above). Researchers at various institutions discovered different degrees of head tilt added immense pressure on the spine, which increased a person’s risk of early degeneration and chronic pain. To fully understand the scope of the problem, the research team developed a table that included information regarding how much pressure gets placed on the spine when you tilt your head down a certain degree. See below:
- 0° Head Tilt = 10-12 pounds of added pressure
- 15° Head Tilt = 27 pounds of added pressure
- 30° Head Tilt = 40 pounds of added pressure
- 45° Head Tilt = 49 pounds of added pressure
- 60° Head Tilt = 60 pounds of added pressure
New, emerging research has found excessive use of electronic gadgets in adolescents increases their risk of kyphosis, a condition that causes severe hunching in the upper back and shoulders. Initially, it was believed texting neck only caused minor spinal problems. Now, researchers and physicians are seeing this condition in much younger populations between the ages of 9-18 years old.
As a result, many physicians are urging the public to limit their gadget use and practice better posture to prevent these complications. While texting may seem harmless, it’s actually causing weak abdominal muscles, which can place uneven pressure on spinal discs. Over time, the spinal discs become compressed and patients tend to experience muscle fatigue and pain.
Should the condition worsen, patients may develop shortness of breath, cardiovascular or lung disease, and Type 2 diabetes. This could eventually lead to anxiety and depression in patients, which is dangerous on its own. Children and teens can avoid many of these complications by re-learning the correct way to sit, especially when they’re using their computers, mobile phones, and tablets.
Additionally, back strengthening exercises and stretches can help improve mobility and flexibility in the spine. Combining a few techniques like running, strength training, and yoga may help increase a person’s balance as well. Ultimately, it’s important to maintain a neutral spine as much as possible to prevent the hunching of your upper back and shoulders.
At American Spine, we are dedicated to treating chronic pain and spine conditions. Offering the latest in minimally invasive spine surgery and other effective treatment options, American Spine is the leading pain physician group of California. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call us at (951)-734-PAIN (7246).
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.