There’s no question that our technology has enriched our lives in countless ways. Unfortunately, it has also added to the list of possible health problems, including a recently classified condition that goes by the name of “text neck.” Text neck is used to describe discomfort that comes from the use of iPads and other tablets, smart phones and e-readers, and according to a recently completed study, women are more likely to be afflicted than men.
The research was conducted at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and was led by assistant professor of physical therapy Szu-Ping Lee. It involved participation by 412 students of the university, as well as staff members and faculty.
The study found that regardless of how much time participants spent using their devices, over two thirds of those who participated experienced some discomfort related to their use of the devices, with 85 percent reporting neck issues, 65 percent reporting shoulder and upper back issues, and one third complaining of issues with their hands or arms. In most cases people reported soreness, stiffness or pain. Interestingly, there was a dramatic difference in the percentage of male participants versus women participants who had issues with device use: among the women, roughly 70 percent had symptoms while the same was true of only 30 percent of the men.
A closer analysis of the way users worked with their devices revealed that they were more likely to have issues if they did not have back support while using them, particularly when they held the devices on their lap or on a flat surface, which automatically forced them to hunch forward.
Lee warns that one of the most concerning aspects that users reported was that they did not generally shift positions or cease device use once pain started: instead they ignored it.
“Pain is a warning sign and if there’s pain and it’s being ignored… then over time, this is going to become more persistent and could become a chronic problem that requires surgery,” Lee told
There are a number of reasons why women tend to have more pain from device use than men, and most of them have to do with body size and strength.
Since women generally are smaller and have less upper body strength than men do, leaning forward and allowing the head to hang down adds additional stress and strain. “That really puts a lot of stress on the cervical spine,” Lee said. “The head, it’s not overly heavy, but if you are tilting downward, that really puts more stress on those supporting structures.” Additionally, women have a higher sensitivity to pain than men do.
Lee expressed concern about the fact that so many young people are reporting pain. “If the younger, supposedly healthier, college-age people are suffering from this with significantly higher frequency, then we fear that down the road we may be looking at higher frequency of neck pain when they get older.”
If you are experiencing chronic neck pain, it’s important that you take immediate action rather than suffering through it. Contact our New Jersey Cervical Spine specialist today to set up an appointment to come in for a consultation.