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Kiwis at Risk of ‘Text Neck’ Warn Chiropractors

Media Release

Date: 18th November 2010

Increasing Numbers of New Zealanders at Risk of ‘Text Neck’ Warn Chiropractors

According to the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association cases of ‘text neck,’ a repetitive stress injury to the body from using hand held mobile devices such as mobile phones, portable gaming units, MP3 players and e-readers, could be on the rise in this country.

‘It is believed that when someone has their head flexed forward while looking down at the screen on their hand held mobile device for long periods of time, the bones and muscles of the spine adapt to that posture and functional changes ensue,’ explains Dr. Hayden Thomas, spokesman for the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association. ‘These changes in the curve, supporting ligaments, tendons, and musculature, as well as the bony segments can eventually lead to nerve involvement, muscle spasms and pain.’

‘With the ever rising prevalence of hand held mobile devices in this country, we are concerned that we are going to be seeing increasing numbers of people of all ages with headaches, neck pain, shoulder and arm pain, resulting from excessive strain on the spine from looking in a forward and downward position at mobile technology,’ adds Dr. Thomas.

The term was first coined in the United States by chiropractor, Dr. Dean Fishman. He noticed that more and more people were seeking evaluation and treatment of chief complaints consisting of headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, arm pain, as well as numbness and tingling of the upper extremities. The one thing that all his patients had in common was that they used texting as the primary way to keep in touch with friends and family.

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Fortunately, there are a number of things that can be done to lessen the chance of injury.

‘Handheld technology is an integral part of our lives now, whether it is for work purposes or to keep in touch with loved ones, and can’t be avoided all together,’ says Dr. Thomas. ‘However, there are changes that can be made so that they have less of a negative impact on overall health and wellness. For example, pay attention to posture when you are texting or looking at a handheld device. Hold your phone directly in front of your face while texting or reading emails to avoid bending your neck downward.

‘It’s also important to take regular breaks’, adds Dr. Thomas. ‘Doing any repetitive task for long periods of time without a break will only result in cramped, sore muscles and repetitive strain injuries. Make it a habit to stop regularly and give your body a chance to recover. A few small tweaks to how you use your mobile phone, MP3 player or e-reader could mean the world of difference when it comes to the health and longevity of your spine, neck and muscles.’


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