Don't let your mobile be a pain in the neck

Ruchira Talapatra, New Delhi: Jan 27, 2016, DHNS: Jan 26 2016, 21:04 IST
While it is impossible to stay away from technology and mobile devices in today's digital world, health experts urge youngsters to utilise them judiciously.

For 32-year-old Rashmi Garg, her constant neck pain had become a way of life. It all started six months back, when she noticed stiffness in her neck along with frequent headaches.

Attributing her condition to long working hours and stress, Garg would often pop painkillers but the relief would last only for a while.

"It was only when my neck pain started getting out of control that I sought advice from a physician, who diagnosed me to be suffering from 'text-neck', a medical condition caused by excessive mobile texting," she says.

"Youngsters nowadays spend a lot of time in texting, and mobile chat applications without realising the risk to their health. However, most people are unaware that all the time they spend hunched over their cell phones, with their heads flexed forward, they are in constant danger and risk of developing a condition known as 'text neck'. The frequent forward flexion causes changes in the cervical spine, curve and bony segments causing postural change, muscular stiffness and pain.

Moreover, with winter season round the corner, there is a higher chance to fall prey to spine-related problems, as heavy winter wears put extra pressure on neck," says Dr Rahul Gupta, Fortis Hospital, Noida.

Not just mobile phones, there are kindles, tablets, and Ipads -- all devices excessive usage of which is responsible for epidemics like the 'text-neck' syndrome. Experts point out that although text-neck is not a new phenomenon, it is now garnering attention due to a number of people falling prey to it.

Characterised by headaches, pain in the upper back, shoulder and neck, as well as increased curvature of the spine, text-neck, if left untreated, can even lead to spinal degenerative problems.

While mild to moderate cases can be treated with physiotherapy and medications, in severe cases surgical intervention, such as disc replacement surgery, may be required.

"A way to reduce text-neck is to spend less number of hours on devices which produce radiation. Secondly, one should keep devices like laptop and mobile in their hands rather than on their lap, which will reduce the possibilities," says Dr Anurag Awasthi, department of orthopaedics, Artemis hospital, Gurgaon.

Doing stretching exercises from time to time, holding the mobile phone at the eye level as much as possible and learning office ergonomics are some of the ways in which to prevent text-neck syndrome from setting in. It's time to stop letting your cell phone become a - literally, pain in the neck.