Study: 'Tech neck' can affect mobile device users

AUSTIN -- For many, smartphones can literally become a pain in the neck due to stress and strain when using devices for extended periods. New data has revealed how much damage "tech neck" can cause. The average human head weighs about 10 to 12 pounds, and depending on the degree of the tilt, using a mobile device can exert as much of 60 degrees of force on the user's neck.

To put that weight into perspective, KVUE's Jim Bergamo went to Highland Lanes and stacked six 10-pound bowling balls together -- that's how much weight is causing damage to the spine in your neck.

"I would have never thought that at all, because it doesn't feel like it," said Megan Eaglehouse, a smartphone user.

"I couldn't imagine," said Colette Eaglehouse, Megan's mother. "You're just bending your head down."

"If you think about it, you are sitting there constantly slouched over," said Megan.

Dr. Ai Mukai, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Texas Orthopedics, said the two P's come into play with tech neck: posture and pressure.

"When you're out of alignment and you put the pressure on, you're also putting a lot of strain on the joints of the neck and the muscles of the neck," said Mukai.

She said because we usually follow with our eyes, movement also comes into play.

"We're also grinding the joints in the back, and that can cause more arthritis," said Mukai.

Spine specialists usually refer to arthritis as the bony buildup in the back of the neck.

"The space between the bones is where the disc lives, and that's where we start seeing compression," said Mukai.

Now that they know, Megan and her mom said they're definitely going to find smarter ways to use their smartphones so tech neck doesn't end up being a real pain in the neck.

"It's really interesting to understand that," said Megan. "That could put so much pressure on you and could damage you, honestly, throughout the rest of your life."

"I'll be spending less time with the phone," said Colette. "Quite honestly, it becomes more of an umbilical cord than actually necessary."

To find out exactly how many pounds of pressure are exerted on the neck at varying degrees, click here for the link to the study found in the journal of Surgical Technology International.

Go here to visit Texas Orthopedic's website.


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