LOL, TTYL,. These are all texting emoticons used pretty much everyday. Jessica Borelli and Emily Metcalfe, 7th graders at Farnsley Middle School, both agree that texting is a fun and fast way to communicate with friends and family.
“Texting is a new thing for me and it’s just a simple way to reach someone,” says Jada Saunders, a 5th grader at McFerran Preparatory Academy. “I just love it”.
Kendrick Watkins, a teacher at Farnsley Middle School says “It’s great because you don’t have to talk to people face to face.”
Texting is fun, but is it safe?
Dr. Dean Fishman, a chiropractic doctor at the Plantation Spine and Sports Rehab in Plantation, FL, wrote in a May 21, 2010, article in Dynamic Chiropractic that texting affects your spine. In Fishman’s words, “text neck” leads to a reversed cervical curve with mild degenerative changes. This means that the curve in your neck is bent forward, instead of its regular slanted curve, which slightly bends back. This causes the muscle tissues to stretch, leading to neck pains. Fishman says he has seen many cases of text neck.
Adam Tanase, a chiropractor from St. Louis, MO, said in an 2011 article on Mobiledia.com, a website that gives insight and opinion on today’s technology, that “A head shuffled forward an extra inch and a half, is going to be applying 20-25 pounds of extra pressure around the neck area, which is essentially like wearing a truck tire around your neck.”
Text neck or forward head posture (FHP) causes soreness in the neck. FHP causes headaches and tightness across the shoulders. Increased pressure on the muscles in the neck and shoulders comes from the holding the phone at a downward angle when texting. Text Neck can result in permanent injury to the spine. Your head bends forward, while your spine stays straight up. Too much of this can cause your spine to eventually crack, which can lead to paralysis, according to Fishman.
“I first started noticing a trend of younger patients coming in to the office with similar complaints of head, neck, and shoulder and arm pain around 2008-2009,” Fishman said in an email response. “The similarities were that most of the patients were between 15–27 years old, and they were all avid texters and portable gamers. The complaints were similar and the X-ray findings were similar. The amount of negative changes in the structure of the cervical spine was far more advanced than that of what would be considered ‘normal’ for that age group. When taking the patient history, I started to notice the amount of time that these patients were spending with their heads hung forward and down in what is now known as the text neck posture.”
Fishman says that text neck can be treated. “We successfully took two groups of patients through X-rays, digital range of motion and digital muscle testing. Group 1 was given specific chiropractic adjustments and a set of four exercises to do three times a week for four weeks. Group 2 was given the same treatment, but asked to view their text message devices at eye level and not in the text neck posture. After one month of care BOTH groups improved in the post X-rays in regard to the restoration of a curve in the neck, and they improved in the range of motion and strength, as well, but Group 2, the group that changed their viewing angle of the devices improved a considerable amount more than that of Group 1.”
Chiropractors advise their patients with text neck to text in a raised position, inform their chiropractor of stress on the spine and learn ways to relieve stress.
Fishman has created a smart phone app to warn texters when they need to correct their posture called Text Neck Indicator. He says that it is “the first real time interactive app that gives biofeedback to proper posture versus improper posture while you are using the device.” When bad posture is imminent, a red light at the top of the screen flashes, and when corrected it turns green. It is designed to improve the muscles in your neck that are affected by text neck. It keeps tabs on your posture and tells you when your posture is at risk. It uses text neck scores and pie charts to track your percentage of good vs. bad posture. You can find the app at Google Play.
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Fishman adds that the app is not essential to treating text neck. “Remember both groups improved, so the chiropractic adjustments and exercises helped, but the changing of the posture is the most important component.” Tajah Hines-Shelley and India Bibbs
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