How device use hurts your neck, and what to do about it
Pain & InflammationDr. Payam Farjoodi
What can happen as we spend more and more time on our devices? Dive into the biomechanics of the spine as Dr. Farjoodi teaches you about “Text Neck,” and his recommendations for reducing spine damage while using devices.
My name is Payam Farjoodi and I’m an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon in private practice here in beautiful Orange County, California.
Today I’ll be talking to you about a subject that hopefully you will all find useful, and I think it has a daily application for most people who are reading this or watching my video. The subject today is Social Media and your Neck. How are those two things related? Great question. I see hundreds of patients in my practice every week, and one of the most common complaints that people present for evaluation is neck pain. This has been a problem with increasing prevalence in today’s society for a lot of different reasons. One of the major reasons is the increased use of handheld devices and those handheld devices being used for social media.
Folks are on TikTok, Instagram, you name it. Whatever their social media of choice is. People spend countless hours on their phone every day. If you’ve ever paid attention to HOW people use their mobile devices, what you see is that they are usually bent or hunched over. This creates an imbalance in their normal posture and the muscular alignment of their spine and in the cervical and thoracic spine. So, a neck and upper back imbalance which becomes an increasing problem. There have been studies showing that there is an increased prevalence of back pain with increased use of these mobile devices, particularly in that hunched or flexed over position in the way that most of us usually use our mobile phones or mobile devices. So, it is a common problem.
It’s becoming a more common problem every day and it’s affecting more and more young people as those mobile devices make their way into the hands of younger and younger folks. Thankfully, these problems are reversible, and this type of treatable neck pain has officially been coined “Text Neck”.
There are some key concepts to keep in mind when we’re sitting in a forward flex posture. Unfortunately, that’s not the posture that our spine is used to being in, and it takes away from the structures that normally provide support to our spine. The normal posture, which we all really want to have, is with your head sitting right above your bottom which will align with the normal curvature of your cervical spine or neck.
There’s also a normal curvature to our lumbar spine or lower back. And these all compensate for each other to give proper alignment. When we’re sitting in a forward flex posture, we lose that alignment. Therefor the muscles that work so hard to try to maintain normal posture are now being overused, and that causes a bio-mechanical imbalance and significant pain and discomfort.
Here are some techniques that are vital to help in minimizing the effects of being in this “Text Neck” or unnatural position.
- We want to make sure we match the bio-mechanics of the way the spine should be. So, trick number one is that you want to make sure that you minimize the amount of time you’re staring down at your mobile device. Try to keep your phone as high up as possible and in line with your line of sight so that you’re maintaining the appropriate posture for the spine.
- The second trick is to make sure that you’re using both hands. When we use one hand, we tend to twist at an oblique angle which causes some abnormal positioning of the neck. Which once again, can cause some bio-mechanical disturbance to the muscles of the spine and some pain.
- The third trick is that we want to make sure that you have as large a screen as possible. The larger the screen, the larger the space that you’re focused on and the easier it is for your neck to maintain that position.
- You can also try using your mobile device when you’re in bed as much as possible. When you’re laying back on a bed there is support for the back of your head. You’re not sitting in that forward flex posture, and your head will be lined up directly in line with your lower back or your bottom. So that’s an optimal position to be in as well.
Those are some tricks that we want to make sure all of us are using to avoid developing Text Neck.
I hope you found this information useful. I think this is an important subject that affects almost everybody.
Once again, I’m Payam Farjoodi, Orthopedic Spine Surgeon here in Orange County, California. If you have any questions, please hop on my website, www.payamfarjoodi.com.
Thanks so much. See you all soon.