First it was 'texter's thumb'. Now gadget addicts are coming down with 'text neck'. Today, many patients are suffering neck pain from spending too much time hunched over phones and computers. The rise of smartphones and tablet computers has fuelled the problem. The extra capability for playing games and browsing the Internet on smartphones means they tend to be used for longer periods. And unlike laptops, tablet computers are often placed flat on the lap, meaning you crane your neck over to view the screen.
Knee and hip replacement surgeon Dr Kaushal Malhan says, "Technology has made life easier, but at the same time brought in newer problems. The easy accessibility to almost any information and quick communication through the use of smartphones and laptops has made them an invaluable resource. At the same time, their indiscriminate use has brought in new health problems."
It is common to find people using their laptops for hours at a stretch. Smartphones now work as mini computers and it is not unusual to find people busy with their phones which are much more than simply a means of communication. "People often complain of neck and back pain, and the cause for these can often be sourced to indiscriminate laptop use in an incorrect posture. These patients often have a good range of movements with pain mainly at the end of the day," adds Dr Malhan.
Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Ashish Arbat agrees. "Today, we are observing many young patients who are into gadgets with wry neck, which is caused by continuous craning of the neck for texting, etc." He advises that one should exercise one's neck daily and stretch the cervical and trapezial muscle, with a healthy habit of sleeping supine straight, with balanced diet to prevent wry neck.
How to avoid such problems
- Use a chair of correct height so that your legs comfortably reach the floor. - Table height and computer monitor height should be at your eye level so that you are not forced to adopt unphysiologic postures. - Elbows should be well supported on armrest or table in front of you. - Do not forget to blink your eyes intermittently to reduce eye fatigue. - Change your posture every now and then and regular breaks in between. - Stretch out all muscle groups whenever you have the
- Regular stretching exercises are a must for people who sit for long hours. In case of problems like neck pain, see a doctor to rule out other non-postural causes.Once that is ruled out, one can look at changing habits and lifestyle as advocated above.
A short course of anti-inflammatory medication and hot packs with gentle massage should help. — Dr Kaushal Malhan
Carl Alasko: How will gadget addiction affect us?
Carl Alasko On Relationships
Posted: 04/08/2012 12:06:07 AM PDT
Updated: 04/08/2012 12:06:07 AM PDT
Dear Dr. Alasko: Our two sons, ages 9 and 13, love technology. My husband is himself a computer geek so he thinks it's great. He says the more they know the better equipped they'll be for their future. But I worry about the human side of their lives. For instance, when they're together with their friends, all of them seem to be looking at their gadgets and doing very little talking. I worry that they won't be able to form healthy adult relationships and bond with their own children — except maybe through technology.
Dear Reader: You have a right to be worried. We don't yet know if there are permanent developmental problems when children have constant access to fast-moving technology. At this point the "experts" seem divided. About half are optimistic. They believe that electronically connected youth will have the advantage of being nimble analysts and fast decision makers. The others are pessimistic. They worry that hyper-connected young people are too distracted by constant input to have deep-thinking capabilities. And they're...
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