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The new health epidemic: Text neck

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According to the Wireless Association, Americans sent 196 billion texts in June 2011, compared to 12.5 billion texts in 2006. Additionally, The Pew Research Center published a study in 2012 showing that the number of cell phone owners who text on their phones has grown to 80% from a mere 58% in 2007.

What does all this mean for the average texter? A new onslaught of medical symptoms previously unseen, especially in the younger generation: a combination of headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, as well as arm and wrist pain. The culprit of these symptoms?

A condition known as Text Neck, which is caused by the neck being flexed for a prolonged period of time. The longer your neck is being flexed, the more the surrounding muscles have to accommodate.

Unfortunately, bad posture and craning your neck aren't the only causes of text neck. The position of your arms, elbows, hands and fingers all contribute as well.

Chris Cornett, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon and spine specialist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center points out that “People get so focused on these devices that they end up holding their neck and upper back in abnormal positions for a long period of time; enough that other people coined the phrase ‘text neck,’ which is essentially referring to postural pain”.

The average human head weighs in at 5kgs, constituting around 8% of the whole body mass. Studies by Kapandji, as reported by the Mayo Clinic, have shown that for every 2 cm the neck moves forward, the weight of the head on the shoulders doubles, increasing by 100%. Therefore if the head moves forward by 6 cm, the mass of your head on your shoulders would be 20kg.

The effects of this forward head posture can lead to long term muscle strains, disc herniation and pinched nerves. Furthermore, as the human head moves forward, there is normally a loss or flattening of the cervical lordosis (neck curve). This loss of curve leads to increased loading of the posterior joints of the spine (facet joints) and compression of the discs, which is one of the major contributing factors in early osteoarthritis.

Fortunately, text neck is very treatable with chiropractic care. The Text Neck Institute conducted its own study with patients aged 13 to 27. After receiving chiropractic treatments, x-rays, and exercises to do at home, patients reported improvement in their symptoms after one month of care.

If you are looking for a chiropractor in Augusta GA, you can contact Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic for their text neck-specific treatments. There are also some simple changes you can start implementing now to ward off text neck: start holding your mobile device at eye level, and take regular breaks, especially when you start to notice your arms getting tired. As Benjamin Franklin once said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

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