Media release: 'Text Neck' a Heavy Burden

Media release time: Sun 01 Feb 2015, 12:00a.m.

Tasmanians are spending between 700 to 1400 hours per year staring at our smart phones. This posture can exert up to 27kg of force on the neck according to new research from the United States.

Research conducted by Dr Kenneth Hansraj, a New York Spine Surgeon, shows evidence for a condition chiropractors see often in practice nicknamed ‘Text neck’.

“There are more mobile phones in Australia than people and we are spending more time on them,” Tasmanian Vice President of the Chiropractors Association of Australia Dr Ashley Dent said.

“This technology is increasingly prolific but the way we use it needs to change.”

Dr Hansraj’s paper, to be published in the Surgical Technology International journal modelled the impact of leaning the head forward in terms of force on the cervical spine. In a normal standing position, an average adult head exerts 4.5 to 5.4 kg but when the head tilts forwards at a 60 degree angle, the force exerted on the cervical spine is more than 27 kg.

The paper notes we spend, on average, 2-4 hours per day looking at our mobile devices. Add this over a year and you have a recipe for neck pain, headaches and back pain.

“Chiropractors have been sounding the alarm for years about the adverse effects of poor posture. The increase in technology use is seeing more people seek out a chiropractor for technology induced neck pain and headaches” Dr Dent said.

“Chiropractors are experts in the diagnosis and conservative management of back pain, neck pain and headaches and we are seeing more and more Tasmanians with these chronic injuries.”

“Unfortunately we are seeing younger people affected by these issues as the technology becomes more accessible. We are starting to see more teenagers and children with ‘adult like’ strains in the neck and back” said Dr Dent.

Dr Dent recommends people take a regular break from their devices and change your posture to avoid hunching over the screen.

“Chiropractors have a range of ways to help people with posture related neck and back pain and can provide advice to help with individual circumstances” Dr Dent said.