Beware the Holiday Gadget "Text Neck" & "Selfie Wrist" Syndromes
You've heard of "Text Neck," the neck and upper back pain caused by holding the head down and forward to view digital devices; now doctors are reporting another painful overuse syndrome dubbed "Selfie Wrist," a numbness and tingling in the fingers and wrist resulting from hyper-flexing the wrist inwards to take the perfect selfie shot. These repetitive stress injuries take a toll on the body and cause debilitating pain that potentially can last a lifetime.
Time spent on smartphones and other devices has grown exponentially, and is starting younger and younger. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, eight to 18-year-olds spend an average of seven and a half hours using some type of digital technology every day. In the case of text neck or "forward head posture," every inch forward the head stoops in front of the shoulders adds another 10 pounds of pressure that the neck and upper back needs to support. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, cervicogenic headaches and TMJ Syndrome, are some of the most common health complaints from tech overuse, as well as increased risk of osteoporotic fractures. In addition to musculoskeletal injury, poor posturing of the head and neck can also reduce respiratory function. Experts say that lung capacity is reduced by as much 30% when in a slouched position, which can have vascular implications if oxygenated blood cannot flow freely throughout the body.
Take away message: Be mindful of your posture...and your time spent on electronics! Adopt better positioning: raise your device to eye level to avoid neck straining; roll your shoulders back and keep your ears behind them to ensure your head is not tilted forward; avoid slouching when sitting --keep feet planted on the floor. Best bet is to use the device at a table or desk rather than a couch. Take frequent breaks to stand up, stretch and do a bit of walking to get the blood flowing. Most importantly, seek chiropractic care to help maintain proper alignment as well as to alleviate neck/back pain, headaches and other symptoms of poor posture related to electronic device usage.