If you have neck pain, there are a number of potential causes that might be causing your discomfort. For example, arthritis can sometimes develop in the joint in the neck, causing affected patients to seek pain relief for their stiff neck. However, if you don’t have arthritis or another health condition that might be causing your problem, your neck pain might be due to your use of a common modern tool: your smartphone.
The average human head weighs roughly 10 pounds. For every inch a person leans forward, holding their neck at an angle, the pressure on their spine increases by double this weight. According to a new study by a New York spine surgeon, this can have a significant effect when users spend long periods looking down at a mobile device in their hands: the research shows that this position can put up to 60 pounds of pressure on a person’s neck, causing headaches, sore shoulders, and neck pain. Physical therapists and doctors often call this phenomenon “Text Neck”, but say that instant messaging isn’t the only thing we should blame: this problem is also caused by playing games, sending emails, and other activities that have become commonplace in the 21st century.
While the neck pain alone might be enough of a reason to take a break from your phone, doctors say that the long-term effects of Text Neck could be even more problematic: the extra pressure could actually pull your spine out of alignment, as well as cause muscle pain, disc herniations and pinched nerves. In some cases, it could even flatten or reverse the natural curve of the spine. Additionally, slouching has been shown to reduce lung capacity by 30%, which can lead to metabolic and gastrointestinal problems, as well as an increased chance of metabolic disease.
If you believe you suffer from this type of neck pain, the simplest pain remedy is to adjust your phone habits: physical therapists recommend taking frequent breaks while using a computer or mobile device, making sure to stand up, roll your shoulders and neck, or take a short walk every 20 minutes or so. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, your shoulders straight, and your head level can also reduce long term discomfort. However, if your pain lingers, pain relief products like pain patches can help.