Flipping through the records of a medical clinic recently, I discovered that over 30 percent of the patients had come for consultations and treatments for neck pain.
The youngest patient was just 14 years in age. While it was no surprise, I still found it deeply troubling.
On top of neck pain, common symptoms of cervical spondylosis include shoulder pain and frequent headaches.
Some patients would have more severe symptoms. For example, if there is irritation or pressure on the spinal nerve roots, they might experience sharp pain and numbness in the affected arm and fingers.
If the patients have acute inflammation in the neck, they could confront neck pain in the middle of the night, greatly affecting their quality of sleep.
Bad posture is the most common reason for neck pain. Office people often have the bad habit of slouching, sitting in a forward-head posture with the shoulders hunched.
In addition, people who lack exercise would have weak muscles in the neck, upper back and core, which also makes them more vulnerable to neck pain.
Other high-risk persons for muscle fatigue in neck and shoulders are those who have suffered traffic accidents with injuries to cervical spine, and workers under excessive stress or having physically demanding jobs.
Meanwhile, people’s obsession with smartphones and tablets has meant that a lot of users are suffering a “text neck” problem.
What puzzles me most is the increasingly popular practice of BYOD — Bring Your Own Device — in primary and secondary classrooms.
Students need to bring their own digital devices such as tablets or laptops to school, along with other required items like musical instruments, PE uniforms and trainers.
Even after class, the school pupils have to continue to spend long hours in front of the computer to do some reading or complete their homework. This is not too good for the physical well-being of the youngsters as it can add to their neck problems.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 27.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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