Cell Phones Are Changing Our Spine’s Natural Curve

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: April 24, 2017

Cell Phones & the Spine

We’ve discussed the issue of text neck on the blog before, but new findings published in The Spine Journal suggest that cell phones may be more problematic for our spines than originally thought. According to the new data, they might contribute to the reversal of the natural curve of our cervical spine.

Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles said that the data suggests that younger patients are heading to spinal clinics at a higher rate, and they are complaining of issues that typically don’t arise for another few decades. Kids are complaining of neck pain, spinal stiffness, muscles spasms and a decreased range of motion. All these conditions are more common in older adults who have been twisting and manipulating their necks and backs for decades, but researchers say more young adults are experiencing the same problems, and they believe phones are to blame.

Reversing Spinal Curve

One of the most pressing concerns from the most recent analysis of the spinal care data is that spinal specialists are seeing an uptick in the number of young patients who are exhibiting a reversal in the normal curvature of their cervical spine.

“In an X-ray, the neck typically curves backward, and what we’re seeing is that curve is being reversed as people look down at their phones for hours each day,” said Dr. Todd Lanman, a spinal neurosurgeon who led the study. “The real concern is that we don’t know what this means down the road for kids today who use phones all day. By the time patients get to me, they’re already in bad pain and have disc issues.”

Fixing The Problem

The study’s authors know that it’s impossible to ask people to limit their phone use, but they are trying to spread the word about using good posture techniques when using a cell phone. For starters, they say that it’s less stressful on your spine if your phone is out in front of you instead of in your lap. The more you position your phone directly in front of you, the less stress you will be exerting on your cervical spine because you won’t be craning down to look at your phone.

Second, you’ll want to be very cognizant of your neck position if you’re looking at your phone in a non-standing position. Researchers noted that study participants were more likely to exhibit poor neck posture habits when using a phone in a seated position or while lying down, so don’t hunch over and check Facebook or lean off the side or your bed to send that text. We don’t know how prolonged cell phone use will affect our necks down the road, but they certainly aren’t making our neck and spine any stronger. Practice proper cell phone posture habits now so you can still look down at your phone when you’re 60.

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