CBSN

Too much texting can be a pain in the neck

SAN FRANCISCO -- As our obsession with our gadgets grows, more doctors are seeing a painful phenomenon known as "text neck."

The pain is a result of constantly looking down at electronic gadgets. According to the marketing agency Tecmark, people pick up their cellphones about 1,500 times a week, which means more people are feeling the strain, CBS San Francisco reports.

Dr. Robert Markison, a clinical professor of surgery at the University of California San Francisco, said we need to get smarter about using our smart devices.

"The theme of ergonomics is to bring objects to you as you assume proper posture rather than you bending over into them," Markison told KPIX.

Markison said even bending our heads at a slight angle could have major effects. On average, our heads weigh 10 to 12 pounds. At an angle of 15 degrees, gravity makes it feel like 27 pounds. At 60 degrees, where most of us bend our heads to our phones, it feels like 60 pounds hanging on your neck.

Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, wrote about the phenomenon in Surgical Technology International last year, and warned it could lead to long-term problems.

"Loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine leads to incrementally increased stresses about the cervical spine. These stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration and possibly surgeries," his study found.

And Markinson says it's not just the neck we have to worry about. "It's a big system from brain to fingertips that we're trying to preserve," he said.

bad-posture-620w.jpg
DR. KENNETH HANSRAJ/SURGICAL TECHNOLOGY INTERNATIONAL

In addition to chronic neck and back pain, bad posture has been linked to a host of other medical problems, including headaches and other neurological problems, depression, constipation, and even heart disease.

This is why the experts say it's important to be mindful of your smartphone posture.

"While it is nearly impossible to avoid the technologies that cause these issues, individuals should make an effort to look at their phones with a neutral spine and to avoid spending hours each day hunched over," Hansraj's study advises.