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Cheyham Lodge, 11 Cheam Road, Ewell Village, Epsom, Surrey KT17 1ST

Beware of text neck

An article by spinal specialist in New York ,Dr K Hansaraj, caught my eye recently. He was warning of the dangers of spending too much time texting.

Here at cheyhamlodge osteopathic clinic we have been aware that the introduction and widespread use of smart phones/tablets and laptops (when used on the lap) has to be taken into consideration when managing patients with neck and upper back pain.

The problem is leverage: our heads weigh between 10 and 12lb but as we angle it down the effective weight, and therefore strain on the neck, goes up exponentially. For example at 15° the effective weight is 27lb and at 60° -the usual angle of the neck when looking at a smart phone in the lap- it rises to as much as 60lb! This puts a significantly increased tension on the spine and surrounding muscles.

Of course this is also true if reading a book in your lap, but it is clear that all these different electronic devices have resulted in people spending more time with their neck at this unnatural angle and a corresponding increase in neck and upper back pain.

There are other mechanical factors which may make an individual more prone to this problem and these may need to be managed with treatment and exercises. But as prevention is always better than cure it makes sense to limit the amount of time you spend on these devices and where possible place laptops on tables or hold mobile devices higher (more level with the eye) to reduce the strain on the neck .

N.b. As head clinician at a headache and migraine clinic headpainrelief.co.uk it is also worth noting that increased use of the above devices and resultant neck tension is also responsible for many patients headaches.