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Spending long hours hunched over phones could risk text neck


As people spend long hours with heads bent over smartphones for texting and reading, they could risk text syndrome, warn doctors. Excessive use of the smartphone sometimes stretches the spine’s natural curvature, which can be a cause of kyphosis, where the spine curves back. Children are at greater risk of developing text neck syndrome because their head size is larger than adults and they spend more time online for games or studies.

Dr Hamad al Hinai, an orthopaedic surgeon, said text neck syndrome or mobile phone neck syndrome “is caused because of the frequent use of mobile devices for long hours in the same position”.

Al Hinai mentioned that one of the symptoms of this disease is chronic pain in the neck, shoulder and chronic headache. To avoid this ailment, the doctor called for the correct posture while using mobile devices.

A recent medical study showed that the spine is directly affected by text neck syndrome. The study monitored the factors affecting the spine while one uses a smartphone or tablet for a long time.

The adult human head weighs between 4 and 6 kg, and its impact on the spine is about 13 kg when the head is tilted forward at an angle of approximately 15 degrees, said the study.

“The pressure on the cervical vertebrae increases as the degree of curvature increases, so the effective force becomes 18 kg at 30 degrees.

“But, the pressure becomes 22 kg at 45 degrees. The tilt angle while looking at a smartphone screen is usually about 60 degrees, which is equivalent to the weight of a seven-year-old child.”

When a person sits in the same posture for a long time, shoulders stoop forward, the neck muscles expand and the load on the spine increases,” the study said.

It causes muscle strain and headache, while in severe cases, the intervertebral discs are eroded prematurely. Text neck is generally considered a non-serious condition.

However, in some cases, it can cause flattening of the curvature of the spine, deterioration in its vertebrae with pressure on the cartilage and herniated spinal disc.

The best way to avoid this ailment is to do simple exercises and adopt correct postures.

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