Beware of the 'text neck' posture while typing: Doctors

Spine surgeons are noticing an increase in people suffering from neck and upper back pain.

James Smith | Apr 17, 2017

Spine surgeons are noticing an increase in people suffering from neck and upper back pain.

According to a recent report, poor posture during prolonged smartphone use could be the cause behind the ailments.

Some patients, especially young people who shouldn't yet suffer from back and neck issues, are reporting disc hernias and alignment problems.

"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," said Dr. Todd Lanman, the study co-author.

Dr. Lanman - a spinal neurosurgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles added that by the time they get to him, they're already in worsening pain and have disc problems.

"The real concern is that we don't know what this means down the road for kids today who use phones all day," Dr. Lanman added.

According to Lanman and study co-author Dr. Jason Cuellar an orthopedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai -, people tend to look down when using their smartphones, particularly when crafting text messages as compared to browsing or watching videos.

Previous research has also revealed that people hold their necks at approximately 45 degrees. The situation becomes worse when they sit versus when standing.

According to the scientists, the impact on the spine increases at higher flexed postures.

Lanman and Cuellar suggest simple lifestyle adjustments relieve the pressure from the 'text neck' posture.

The researchers recommend holding cell phones in front of the space, or near eye level when writing text messages.

The researchers also suggest using two hands and two thumbs to create a more balanced and comfortable angle for the spine.

With laptops, they recommend using a separate keyboard and mouse, so the laptop is at eye level and still create a good ergonomic position while typing.

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