Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Cellphone use can cause 'text neck,' experts say

Aimee Klein, a physical therapist and associate professor in the USF School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences

Courtesy of USF

Aimee Klein, a physical therapist and associate professor in the USF School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences

All that bending over cellphones and other electronic devices may not just be bad for your brain and relationships. It's also bad for your spine. Your neck in particular.

Some experts are calling it "text neck."

"I see it in patients, friends, colleagues, family members. It's a real problem," said Aimee Klein, a physical therapist and associate professor in the USF School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences.

Overuse of handheld devices such as cellphones can cause particular problems because most of us hold them too low, so we're always looking down. That puts a lot of strain on the neck, shoulders and upper back. One Illinois physical therapist reports seeing teenage patients with back, neck and shoulder complaints that she used to only see in middle-aged adults.

A 2014 study in the National Library of Medicine found that constantly looking down puts so much extra pressure on the cervical or upper spine that it can lead to joint damage and, in extreme cases, the need for surgery to get pain relief. Teen athletes are at especially high risk because many sports already put a lot of stress on their spine, shoulders and neck.

The solution, of course, is to reduce use. (See our tips box.) But also to hold devices higher.

"Most of us hold cellphones at waist level or lower, in our laps, especially if we're trying to hide it under a restaurant table or desk. I see that a lot," said Klein. "I even do it myself sometimes."

She recommends bending the elbows and lifting the screen up, closer to eye level. Also, if you must work on a small, handheld device for extended periods, take breaks, sit up tall with your head held high and try to relax the shoulder and neck muscles.

And if you do develop neck or shoulder pain, see a physical therapist who can give you tips and exercises to address your specific complaints. Klein advises against self-treatment or just trying exercises you find online because, done incorrectly, they may cause even more damage and pain.

Information from the Chicago Tribune was used in this report.

Cellphone use can cause 'text neck,' experts say 08/18/16 [Last modified: Thursday, August 18, 2016 3:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest

    Nation

    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.
  2. Police pull unconscious New Port Richey man from SUV in Cotee River

    Accidents

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Police rescued an unconscious driver whose sport utility vehicle plunged into the Cotee River on Saturday.

  3. Analysis: Bannon is out, but his agenda may live on

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — In his West Wing office, Stephen Bannon kept a chart listing trade actions — on China, steel and autos — that the Trump White House planned to roll out, week by week, through the fall. Now that Bannon, the president's chief strategist, has been pushed out, the question is whether his …

    Steve Bannon thinks he could be more effective influencing policy from outside the White House.
  4. Trump to skip Kennedy Center Honors awards program

    Politics

    BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — Acknowledging that he has become a "political distraction," President Donald Trump has decided to skip the festivities surrounding the annual Kennedy Center Honors arts awards later this year, the White House announced Saturday amid the continuing fallout over Trump's stance on last weekend's …

  5. Bucs' annual Women of RED preseason party attracts nearly 2,000

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Theresa Jones is primarily a college football fan, but she wanted to get a taste of the Bucs. So the 46-year-old Tampa resident bought a ticket for the team's Women of RED Ultimate Football Party at Raymond James Stadium on Friday.

    Lee White of Seminole tries on a helmet at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers female fans descended upon Raymond James Stadium for the ultimate football party, the 2017 Women of RED: The Takeover, supported by Moffitt Cancer Center. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times