Date
13 December 2017
Neck pain nowadays typically results from factors such as overstress, prolonged use of computers and mobile phones bad posture or lack of exercise. Photo: HKEJ
Neck pain nowadays typically results from factors such as overstress, prolonged use of computers and mobile phones bad posture or lack of exercise. Photo: HKEJ

Text neck is real, not just a buzzword

Like many diseases caused by a sedentary modern lifestyle, neck pain afflicts many young people including students and office employees. In most cases,  the pain is not simply muscle sore. It has to do with the cervical spine.

There is a natural, slight inward curve in the neck which looks like a “C” from the side. Such a curvature serves bodily mechanical functions such as scattering the weight of the head and shock absorption.

An average adult head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds. If you want to feel the actual pressure on the neck, try holding a bowling ball. That is the weight the neck is supporting.

A research experiment was carried out to study how the effective weight on human necks changes and to calculate the pressure on the spine as the model angles the neck bending downwards.

The results showed that when the neck tilts downward at 15 degrees, the neck bears 27 pounds of weight approximately. The weight rises to 40 pounds at 30 degrees, and 49 pounds at 45 degrees.

When the neck is 60 degrees downward, it holds up to 60 pounds, which is a challenging lift even for the entire body. No wonder the cervical spine strains and herniates, causing pain in the neck.

Neck pain nowadays typically results from factors such as overstress, prolonged use of computers and mobile phones bad posture or lack of exercise.

Looking downwards at handheld devices is the worst of all because it directly puts tension in the deep muscles of the neck, increasing the risk of spinal curve dislocation and spinal disc herniation.

The term “text neck” is not just a buzzword but is actually backed up by research.

As we text, our respiration rate immediately speeds up and our neck muscles tighten because we subconsciously stabilize the phone in order to type and send. All these can cause major pain in our neck and shoulders in the long run.

That said, if you use the phone frequently and constantly suffer from cervical spondylosis, do consult the doctor before the situation gets worse.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 23

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

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