Text Neck: How smart devices are becoming a ‘pain in the neck’

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Most people use smart devices every day. Even schools are switching from textbooks to iPads or tablets. But for all the convenience they provide, they are also causing strains on our necks and backs that can lead to long term problems.

“Text Neck” refers to muscle pain in the neck, shoulders, or in the back because of constantly hunching over. Over time the misalignment can cause wear and tear on our neck and body.

KX talked to a physical therapist who says he’s seen an increase in patients coming in because of this issue in North Dakota.

“The biggest thing nowadays is everything we do is not just smartphones but computers are all in front of us,” says Optimum Therapies Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist, Collin Kudrna.

There are roughly 4 billion smartphones users in the world. “Typically the first thing that happens is that our shoulders round like this and our mid-back folds over like this,” says Kudrna.

And its something our bodies can’t help but do. “We are not going to look at the floor all day,” says Kudrna. “Our brain will tell our body to lift the eyes to the horizontal or if we are talking to someone or looking at that computer or whatever that is — is where we will get neck tension because the neck is working to hold that weight of the head up so we can see and communicate with our environment.”

Traci Hilsabeck says it became a serious problem in her everyday life.

“I was having a lot of neck pains, jaw pains, and headaches and a girlfriend who had significant back pain finally found Collin [Kudrna] and told me about him,” says Hilsabeck.

She now goes to physical therapy to help with her body pains and has even changed her everyday routine at home and work.

“I do more standing sometimes instead of always sitting,” says Hilsabeck. “I do a lot of the rolling the shoulders back and taking breaks during the workday to readjust and reposition.”

Kudrna says he’s not only seen more kids come in, but even moms come into his office with head, back, and spine issues. He offers some advice that could help prevent these problems.

“I would just make sure whenever you are looking at something to have it up to at least eye level whether that is your monitor on your desktop so your eyes are on the top third of your screen. If it is your smartphone, have it up to where you can keep your shoulder back where you don’t have to round forward or bend over to look at it. And just be aware. Think of a posture line from the ears to your ankles. Everything should kind of be in line.”

Taking the right precautions or going to a physical therapist for treatment can do wonders for your body and change your life.

Hilsabeck says, “You just have more clarity and have more energy to function and keep up with the kids and work and everything else.”

Kudrna says you can usually see improvement in your body just after one therapy session but it could take up 2 months for some people to get back into a proper movement pattern.

Studies even show hunching over the phone may be giving some people horn-like skull bumps as well.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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