A recent study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Science states that heavy cellphone use causes cervical disc degeneration in young adults.
In the study, MRIs of 2,438 young patients suffering with neck pain showed that higher cellphone use causes a greater degree of cervical disc degeneration.
Cervical disc degeneration can lead to a condition known as spondylosis over time, which is basically arthritis of the neck.
Why This Data Is Disturbing
Many people wouldn’t expect that the simple act of using a cellphone could cause cervical disc degeneration.
This data is quite disturbing because we generally think of disc disease as a condition specific to older people.
While 90% of people over 60 have some degree of spinal arthritis, it is not common in young adults.
Aside from injury and fixation, these conditions of the spine are typically caused by long-term stress on the joints and ligaments of the neck.
Doctors use the term “text neck” to describe the strain which occurs from spending long periods of time with the head bent downward.
Students, office workers, and excessive cellphone users are at risk for developing text neck.
How Cellphone Use Causes Cervical Disc Degeneration
Imagine you are balancing a 12 pound bowling ball on a short pole. With the pole directly under it, the bowling ball isn’t difficult to manage.
As you lean the bowling ball forward, however, it gets heavier. You have to use more strength to keep it under control.
In the same way, as your head bends down, the muscles of the neck have to tighten and work harder.
In his book The Physiology of the Joints, Volume 3, Dr. Adalbert I. Kapandji states that 10 pounds of pressure is added to the cervical spine for every inch the head leans forward.
For frequent texters, office workers, students, etc., this could amount to a 5-gallon bottle of water sitting on your neck for hours at a time.
Long-Term Results Of Forward Head Posture
Aside from cervical disc degeneration, heavy cellphone use (among other activities) can also result in harmful postural changes.
If the head remains in a forward position long enough, the healthy neck curve will flatten. This can stretch and irritate the spinal cord and nerve roots.
Furthermore, when the cervical spine straightens, unnatural strain is placed on the joints and ligaments of the neck.
As a result, posture can change permanently and normal movement of the neck may be lost.
Loss of mobility can eventually cause neck pain, headaches, arthritis, and the dreaded hump-back.
Read More: 5 ways to maintain spinal health as you age.
Forward head posture can also result in a 30% loss of lung capacity as the muscles that lift the ribs while breathing become impaired.
As you can see, cervical disc degeneration is just one negative outcome of heavy cellphone use.
Reduce Symptoms Of Text Neck With These Methods
The following methods may reduce the effects of text neck in those who are at risk.
Maintaining good spinal health can also lower the chances of disc degeneration and other spinal conditions.
*Please consult a licensed health care practitioner before changing your current health regimen or beginning a new activity.
- First and foremost, a chiropractor should adjust any bones of the spine which are fixated or not moving properly. This will ensure good mobility for other exercises and stretches.
- Yoga is also tremendously helpful. Read my article on 5 yoga poses for the neck and shoulders to see the ones I recommend. YouTube is also a great resource for short yoga routines you can do throughout the day.
- Many physical therapists recommend the chin tuck to correct forward head posture.
- Take frequent breaks from your cellphone or desk work to perform the exercises listed here.
- Raise your work space to eye level so you don’t have to look down at a book or computer screen.
- Use voice commands for as many cellphone functions as you can.