Remember when carpal tunnel was the condition that screamed the most? The technology industry was not prepared for the onslaught of hurting wrists that plagued the beginnings of the computer era. Hence, they had to adapt by designing ergonomic key boards and extensive studies were done to better understand this condition. The goal is always to understand the condition and what can be done to prevent future injury.
Fast forward and the cellular phone/ tablet age is upon us. It is here and not going away any time soon. The addiction for information is rampant amongst users between the ages of 18 and 44. Generally only 2 hours of their waking day does this group not have their phone at hand. This has caused the latest and not so greatest condition coined, “Text Neck”.
You are probably asking yourself that we have been looking down while reading for centuries and why now is there a prevalence of people with hurting necks? The answer to that it is just one more thing adding to an unnatural position for our head and neck. The average weight of the head can put 10 to 12 pounds of force through the muscles of the neck. If the head is moved forward from it’s normal curvature (lordosis) by just one inch, it can increase the carrying load of the head putting six times as much force on the neck than previously mentioned.
So, now comes the unwelcome news of the side effects of the world’s addiction to information. If left untreated, inflammation begins to work on the soft tissues of the neck like muscles, tendons, ligaments, and intervertebral discs. Inflammation leads to pain in the neck and shoulders. Headaches begin to rear their ugly head, no pun intended. Years of this will put stress on the joints and cartilage causing early osteoarthritis. On occasion, osteoarthritis forms bone spurs that can pinch nerves that exit the spinal column causing radiculopathy (pain, numbness, tingling) down the arms. Initially people seek treatment for pain and inflammation.
As Chiropractors, our goal is proper alignment of the joints, normal length and strength of muscle tissue, as well as, recruitment of muscle patterns through exercise that restores normal range of motion. In addition, lifestyle modification with adequate ergonomics will decrease the likelihood of setbacks and reduces time spent with rehabilitation of flare ups.
We live here for a reason so let us keep our chins up and to yours in better health!