UNITED STATES: Many people have noticed chronic pain shooting down their neck, through arms to fingertips, whenever they use their mobile phone for a long time. To treat this commonly spreading problem a therapist has developed a mobile application and is treating many patients these days
Jenny Ottoson of Plantation sought medical help after suffering several years' of neck, back and shoulder pain that often flared up shortly after using her mobile phone and laptop. Plantation chiropractor Dean L. Fishman calls this as "text neck." This malady is similar to tennis elbow, but instead of being brought on by sports activities it is worsening by improper posture while using mobile devices.
Bad Posture when Using Mobile Devices: Experts say the relationship between bad posture and the use of mobile devices is a legitimate concern. "I have not heard of text neck, but theoretically anytime you hold your neck in an awkward position for a prolonged time it will cause inflammation and irritation," said Jeffrey Cantor, a spine surgeon and founder of the South Florida Spine Clinic in Fort Lauderdale, U.S.A. "That could ultimately damage joints and cause arthritis." "Text Neck is basically a new name for a well-recognized disorder," said Jerome M. True, who also runs a chiropractic practice in Martin County, north of Palm Beach County, U.S.A. In the past, True said, the disorder was brought on by poor posture while someone bent their neck to read a book in their lap or by a sports activity. "The problem with texting is," True said, "it is second nature for kids to lean forward to see the screen of the device in their lap, which causes fatigue and repetitive injury to the muscles in the neck and upper back." He further added: "When the 12- to 20-year-olds of today get to be 40 years old, it will be most problematic and difficult to correct."
Cure by Exercising and Holding Properly: Curing the ailment can be relatively simple, particularly when the condition is caught early. Experts recommend taking regular breaks when using mobile devices and resisting the temptation to flex the neck too much while using them. Fishman teaches his patients how to hold mobile phones and mobile devices properly. He also advocates exercises that develop neck and shoulder muscles and chiropractic adjustments. Chambers, a patient care coordinator at a urgent care facility in Broward County who often uses her mobile phone to text patients and doctors, says: "I had pain for quite a long time after using cell phones and laptops," she said. "Now I know what a big thing posture is when using them." Chambers said her exercises involve lying on her stomach and holding her head up for 10 seconds, releasing, and starting again, about 10 repetitions each time. Another exercise involves standing with the back of her feet against a wall and raising her hands "in angel motions."
Story Behind the Name Text Neck: He came up with the name a year ago while trying to explain to a patient's mother why the girl was in pain. He noticed her teen-aged daughter in the corner texting friends, bending her neck forward as she typed. "I told the mom, 'See, that's what I am talking about, text neck.'" Since then Fishman has been spreading the word to his patients that the condition can be painful and cause a lifetime of hurt if not corrected and treated.
'Text Neck' Android Mobile Application: Fishman also developed a mobile phone application that helps alert users of a posture problem while texting or playing games on Android mobile phones. The mobile application works in the background, presenting a green or red light in the top left corner of the screen while users text. A green light means proper posture, red means the opposite. Users can adjust the app to beep or vibrate for posture alerts as well.
Price and Availability: The Text Neck App is available for $2.99 at the Android Market at android.com/market/. It is not available on iPhone, BlackBerry handsets or other devices because of technical issues involving native mobile operating systems, but Fishman hopes to overcome those in the future.
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