America’s growing use of electronic devices has literally become a pain in the neck. With the average adult spending more than 11 hours per day engrossed in some form of electronic media, our bodies are taking a hit. Neck and back problems are on the rise, as our spines feel the impact of unnecessary strain, overwork and poor posture for extended periods of time.
Tapping the expertise of orthopedic spine surgeon Dr. Hooman Melamed, who has addressed this topic for “The Doctors” TV show, among others, DISC Sports & Spine center (DISC) has released a list of four recommendations for preventing ‘text neck’ and other electronic device-related spinal problems. Dr. Melamed compiled the tips after seeing numerous patients whose visits to him could have been avoided had they taken some basic precautions.
“I’ve definitely seen an increase in cases where patients feel pinching and achiness in their necks despite normal MRIs,” says Dr. Melamed. “If technology use is the issue, these patients and others may find relief and even stave off future problems by following four rather simple tips.”
Dr. Melamed’s Recommendations:
1. Heads Up! – Take a moment to look around in any busy part of the country, and you’ll see them everywhere: the dropped heads of people texting, browsing, posting on their phones and tablets. Over time, this position can become a real pain in the neck that causes damage to the spine, not to mention it’s just plain dangerous when you’re walking or driving. To prevent ‘text neck’ and other issues, try to keep your phone right in front of you, looking straight ahead instead of down. It may take some getting used to, but this will help preserve the natural position of your neck and prevent injury.
2. Hands-Free – While newer cars and traffic laws have encouraged hands-free phone use on the road, millions of Americans still have the rotten habit of cradling their phones between ear and shoulder. This is an unnatural position for the neck that—when held for extended lengths of time—puts undue stress on the spine. And the smaller or more streamlined the phone, the worse the stress. Invest in a good hands-free headset, and you’ll maintain your neck’s longevity while avoiding pain and potential damage.
3. Stop the Slouch – While it may feel like the ‘natural’ thing to do after spending hours in front of a laptop or desk, slouching has a very unnatural impact on the spine, taking it out of alignment and creating neck and low back problems. To prevent this from happening, be mindful of your posture. Sit up straight with your abdominal muscles tightened and maintain a constant awareness of how your neck and back are positioned relative to the rest of your body. For further help, consider a standing desk or a better ergonomic chair with good lumbar sport. Do not slouch, and do not rest your arms for prolonged periods of time on any desk.
4. Keep Moving – Our bodies were designed to be active. Discs and joints maintain optimum health with regular movement. When you’re sedentary for long periods of time, whether texting, playing a game, on your laptop or at a desk, you negatively impact not only your spine, but also your knees, hips and ankles. Lack of movement causes joints to stiffen up with time and, as we get older, lose hydration. It then becomes even more imperative to keep moving to help our discs and joints stay lubricated. Sitting for prolonged periods of time also generates the highest amount of intradiscal pressure. To prevent stiffness and pain, give yourself breaks throughout the day. Get up and make a point to stretch. If you need an extra push, set an alarm to remind you to take this much-needed time to move your body.
ARTICLE CATEGORIES: Patient Education
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discmdgroup DISC Sports and Spine Center (DISC) is one of America’s foremost providers of minimally invasive spine procedures and advanced arthroscopic techniques. Our individually picked, highly specialized physicians apply both established and innovative solutions to diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate their patients in a one-stop, multi-disciplinary setting. With a wide range of specialists under one roof, the result is an unmatched continuity of care with more efficiency, less stress for the patient, and a zero MRSA infection rate. Read more articles by discmdgroup.