PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Doctors have come up with a new term to describe the pain many tech-savvy people are experiencing – Text Neck.
More than half of Americans own a smartphone. Add that to those who use laptops, E-readers and tablets, and there are a lot of people looking “down.”
That’s a problem that spinal surgeon Ken Hansraj started to notice after talking with a patient about his neck pain.
“He told me that he was playing Angry Birds for hours a day on his iPad — head down,” Hansraj said.
Other people said the back of their necks often get sore after using these devices for an extended period of time.
Dr. Hansraj wondered just how much pressure is put on the neck when people look down on their devices to text or read. He worked with engineers to determine a weight value for putting long-term stress on a person’s neck.
In a neutral position, the human head weighs ten to 12 pounds.
But, his results show when the head is tipped just 15 degrees, pressure jumps to 27 pounds.
When the head is tipped 60 degrees, typical of someone sending a text message or in front of a computer, the weight on the neck is 60 pounds.
Neurologist Dr. Jerry Bauer said neck pain associated with electronic devices is common.
“This is a normal position of the head,” said Bauer. “When you’re texting you’re turning your whole spine forward.”
He said when a person holds their head in a cocked position, it causes muscle strain and muscle fatigue.
The key is to adjust your lifestyle and be cognizant of your head positioning.
“My message is: keep your head up,” says Dr. Hansraj. “Always be cognizant of where your head is in space.”