“iPosture” or “text neck” is a newly developed medical term physicians are using to diagnose orthopedic conditions associated with the repetitive stress and overuse of technological devices by their patients.
Do you ever look around and wonder what will come of the “electronic generation,” those burgeoning adults who constantly have their hands on technology? Have you ever wondered what impact screen-time might have on the development of your children? What affect this might have on their ability to socially interact or communicate? Or how they may look in 20 years? I hope to answer a few of your burning questions.
You can always pick out “iPosture” individuals sitting at a table in a restaurant, in their cars at red lights, waiting for the bus, walking through the mall, in line at the grocery store, and at the airport. They are everywhere, and quite possibly you!
Through anatomical goggles you can quickly identify them anxiously hunched over their device. Neck and head forward, shoulders rounded, and arms extended with wrists rotated inward as they clutch their device. They could be doing any number of things like: searching the web, watching videos, texting, playing games, or reading the news.
According to Kaiser Family Foundation, 8-18 year olds spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using “entertainment media.” Data released by the Census Bureau compared the number of text messages sent in December 2015 to the number sent in December 2016. The findings revealed 48 billion text messages were sent in 2015, and 110 billion in 2016. The prevalence of American’s on their devices is skyrocketing!
A new study released in April 2016, which will be presented at the 2016 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, revealed some striking findings between the use of technological devices and speech delays. The study found that the more time children between the ages of six months and two years spent using handheld screens such as smartphones, and tablets, the more likely they were to experience speech delays.
Another concern is that in people between the ages of 12 and 22 there will be an increase in back pain therapy cases, and in greater than numbers currently reported in adults. Healthcare professionals consider the following problems to be associated with iPosture or “text neck”:
- Forward head posture
- Back and neck pain
- Achy shoulders and arms
- Tension/pain and tingling in the hands, elbow and wrist
By the time they are 25-35 years old, degenerative arthritis will have already started to form because alignment is not correct, which will lead to an increase of medications and surgery.
“Where the head goes, the body will follow. For every inch of FHP, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10-15 lbs.” (Kapandji, Physiology of Joints. Vol.3). In addition, the “Loss of cervical curve stretches the spinal cord 5-7 cm and causes disease”. (Dr. Alf Breig, Neurosurgeon & Nobel Prize Recepient). These have implications on posture, and may contribute to headaches, or complaints of neurological symptoms in the arms/hands (such as carpal tunnel, numbness, tingling and loss of strength).
What you do to prevent iPosture:
- Bring device to eye level
- Posture check every hour (try the app Posture Corrector)
- Make sure your behind is back up against the chair—“sit up straight”
- Use both hands while texting
- Take breaks
- Raise your phone a few inches up your sightline—seems easy enough and it may, quite literally, help take a load off. (Hansraj K Assessment of Stresses in the cervical spine caused by posture and position of head. Surgical Technology International. 2014)
What should you do if you are experiencing problems associated with technology overload? Make an appointment with one of our physical therapists at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy to determine if you need back pain therapy.
We will perform an evaluation to determine the underlying causes of skeletal or muscle impairments (inflexibility, tightness/myofascial restrictions, trigger points, or muscle weakness) including a neurological screen in the event that you are experiencing numbness/tingling.
Most programs will start with patient education on posture correction, then target the sources by way of exercise and stretching to improve posture. Additionally, we make use of equipment and hands on techniques to address adaptive muscle tightening and restrictions. We will identify structures contributing to your symptoms and can establish a program designed specifically for you.