Though it’s certainly true that back and neck pain can affect people of any age, it is also true that in recent years our cervical spine specialty practice in New Jersey has seen an increase in the number of younger patients coming in to seek help. This is a direct result of changes in our society, and specifically of people living more sedentary lives while at the same time maintaining poor postures while engaging with technology.
Though lower back pain has traditionally been more common than pain in the cervical spine, with roughly 90% of adults experiencing it at some point in their lives, our use of technology has put increasing stress on the vertebrae that are higher up on the spinal column and which are responsible for supporting our head.
Where the human body evolved to spend its time in an upright position and to move on a regular basis, today’s reality has us spending several hours at a time sitting at our desks, and even more time spent bent over keyboards or looking down at our smart phones. This has put extraordinary stress on the cervical spine and has led to symptoms ranging from neck pain and stiff shoulders to severe headaches.
Though the issues that we are increasingly see at our cervical spine practice in New Jersey are sometimes caused by accidents, we are increasingly seeing problems directly attributable to the use of electronic devices. This is especially true when the patient has maintained poor posture while using their phones, tablets and computers: this can include sitting or lying in a hunched over position, or looking down at their phone while standing.
Few people understand the pressure that the head’s weight can put on the spine while engaging in this activity, and the damage is exacerbated by lack of exercise, stress, obesity, and smoking.
When undue pressure is placed on the vertebrae of the spine it can lead to herniation or a degenerative process that leads to pressure being put on the delicate nerves found in the spinal column. This is where neck pain comes from, and the more the situation is allowed to continue, the worse the problem can grow.
Neck pain can interfere with sleep and cause the patient to move differently or adopt even more unnatural positions that can lead to further damage.
To address the problem we encourage people to take several proactive steps. If your work is sedentary, get up and walk around at least once each hour, and make sure that your computer monitor or laptop is elevated so that you do not need to look down to do your work.
Pay attention to your posture to ensure that you are standing up straight with head held high and shoulders back, and avoid looking down at your smart phone. Try to add some stretches into your daily routine and get at least 20 minutes of exercise each day.
If you are currently experiencing neck pain and these measures don’t provide relief, there are several conservative approaches that we can offer at our cervical spine practice in New Jersey. Contact our office today to set up a time to come in for an appointment.