Neck and shoulder pain are common complaints from patients but the source of the pain at times can be caused by something as small as our cell phones. How could your little cell phone hurt you? It’s all about posture!
This phenomenon even loosely has a name in the medical community, “tech neck.”
What do the statistics say?
A 2017 study of 500 university students reported that about 25% of students had a neck pain rating of 5 or greater on a 10 point scale. While we do not know the sources that caused their neck pain, we do know that all 500 respondents were cell phone users.
Though the age of university students can vary (and the study did not account for age) we can assume most of those surveyed were in their low 20’s. However, the study did find a connection between increased phone use and increased pain rating.
What happens when I lean my head forward?
Think about holding a heavy box – you likely hold it close to your body without even thinking about it. Should you reach your arms straight out and hold the box away from your body you will quickly discover that the box feels heavier. The same goes for your neck.
Your neck is well adjusted to holding the weight of your head in an upright position. However, when you lean yourself forward and your neck sticks out, it feels stressed to support the weight.
The typical posture of leaning forward over your phone also causes you to round your shoulders or lift them up towards your ears.
How should I use my cell phone?
The next time you use your phone (maybe you are right now), pay special attention to your posture. Many of us have a bad habit of leaning forward and hunching over when using our cell phones.
Additionally, many of us hold our phones parallel to the ground, causing us to tilt our chins down to see the display. To lessen the risk of putting yourself in this uncomfortable position, instead hold your phone up more, so that you can look forward to view your screen.
How can I fix the problem?
Even if you are a frequent phone user, there is always a chance that the source of your pain is caused by something else. The best first step is to visit a chiropractor for a hands-on evaluation.