Mobile Devices Putting Children at Risk

Poor Posture Leads to Neck and Shoulder Pain

Seeing changes in neck posture for patients that use a computer many hours a day is nothing new.  Often I find Forward Head Posture in patients who present to the office with complaints of neck and/or shoulder pain, headache, and possibly tingling and numbness into the arms and hands.  What is new, is the instances of having parents report that their children are having similar symptoms.  When we consider the amount of time that children are using mobile devices, then we begin to understand why they are feeling the same pains.  Children frequently texting, using tablet computers, or portable video games are being exposed to the same stresses as someone using a computer many hours a day.  And they are at risk for Forward Head Posture or “Text Neck.”

What is Forward Head Posture?

Forward Head Posture (FHP) is the chronic anterior positioning of the head relative to the shoulders.  FHP is caused by long periods of holding the head close to a computer monitor, viewing media on a desk, or in ones lap.  Poor sleeping posture, muscle imbalance, and other factors can contribute.  The longer the anterior head position is maintained, the more enduring FHP becomes.

A good way to illustrate the effect that FHP has on the spine and muscles of the upper back is to try holding a bowling ball or gallon of milk (approximate weight of the human head) close to your body with arms outstretched in front of you.  Clearly, it is much easier to hold the weight closer to your body.  Holding the weight with your arms ahead of you demonstrates the additional stress that your body endures to hold your head in FHP.

“For every inch of Forward Head Posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds1.”  As the head moves forward, the structures that support the head must bear the additional burden.

Forward Head Posture Risks

Research findings presented in 2009 at the 31st Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society in Minneapolis, Minnesota indicated that “Over time poor posture results in pain, muscles aches, tension and headache and can lead to long term complications such as osteoarthirits.  Forward head carriage may promote accelerated aging of intervertebral joints resluting in degenrative joint disease2.”  Additional research has shown that FHP can contribute to loss of normal spinal curvature, disc compression and herniation3, muscle and nerve damage4, vascular disease, loss of lung capacity, and gastrointestinal disorders5

Awareness, Improved Posture, Exercise, and Chiropractic

As use of mobile devices increases, the prevalence of FHP is likely to continue to grow in children and adults.  Dr. Fishman, a Florida chiropractor, has created “The Text Neck Institute” to educate the public about the dangers of FHP and help people find relief.  FHP is a postural problem that chiropractors are trained to recognize and treat frequently.  If you or your child suffer from headache, neck, and shoulder pains contact Matthews Chiropractic Center to evaluate the risk for Forward Head Posture.

  1. Kapandji, IA. The Physiology of the Joints: The Trunk and the Vertebral Column.  Vol. 3. London: Churchill Livingston, 1974. []
  2. 31st Annual International Conference of the IEEE EMBS Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, September 2-6, 2009. []
  3. American Journal of Pain Management, January 2008, 4:36-39. []
  4. Breig, Alf. Adverse Mechanical Tension in the Central Nervous System: An Analysis of Cause and Effect. 1978. Almqvuist & Wiksell International, Stockholm, Sweden. Pg 177. []
  5. Cailliet R, Gross L, Rejuvenation Strategy. New York, Doubleday and Co. 1987. []

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