184 billion texts were sent last year in the UK, and this is not counting messages exchanged on Whatsapp… Seems as if people’s fingers have been busy! A recent study has shown that this habit causes neck pain and can have serious consequences on our entire bodies.
We’ve already heard about namomophobia, the fear of being separated from your mobile phone for a few moments, textonitis (tendinitis of the thumb linked to an abuse of message sending) and now it seems you’ll have to try and avoid ‘text neck’ and especially its consequences on the rest of our anatomy. Read on to find out more.
3.4 billion users affected
According to a study published in the PLOS Oneles journal, 3.4 billion smartphone users around the world are at risk of developing neck pain and musculoskeletal disorders whenever they use their device, especially when sending text messages.
This is hardly surprising when you consider that leaning over your device puts pressure on the spine and changes the natural curve of the neck, thus increasing the impact on soft tissues.
A team of scientists from Khon Kaen University in Thailand and the University of South Australia conducted a study on 30 smartphone users. Aged 18 to 25 years and spending an average of 8 hours a day on their mobile phones, they were filmed by researchers.
A disturbing score
They used the Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA) method, which is used to assess the level of ergonomic risks of people working on a desktop or laptop computer. This is the first time this instrument had been involved in a study on the use of smartphones. Usually an acceptable score is between 1 and 2. But in the case of the students observed, an average score of 6 was found.
‘The results showed problems due to poor posture of the neck, torso and legs, resulting in musculoskeletal disorders,’ said Suwalee Namwongsa of Khon Kaen University and lead author of the study.
Rose Boucaut, a physiotherapist at the University of South Australia who also participated in the research adds that ‘smartphone users bend or twist their necks from both sides and their upper body and their legs are then found to be in very uncomfortable positions. These postures exert uneven pressure on the soft tissues surrounding the spine and this can lead to pain.’
A finding that reinforces the figures of a previous study that found that out of 779 students from Thai universities who were smartphone users: 32% had neck pain, 26% shoulder pain, 20% back pain and 19% pain in the hands and/or wrists. This study also revealed that female users suffered from more (71%) musculoskeletal disorders than male (28%) smartphone users.
Since the month of making resolutions is not over yet, maybe it's time to resolve to spend less time on your phone, right?
Check out the video above for more on this worrying condition...