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Continued: Latest affliction caused by digital devices: 'tech neck'

  • Article by: ALLIE SHAH , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 2, 2014 - 11:39 AM

Disc problems are common and preventable, Hansraj said, but he added: “I firmly believe they are being enhanced by the poor posture of the digital age.”

Straightening up

Today, Stricker, a 39-year-old graphic designer, makes a conscious effort to avoid tilting her head down while using her phone. Instead, she holds the screen up to eye level. That small movement eases her neck pain, she says.

Other remedies for tech neck include regularly stretching, taking breaks from gadgets and using the dictation option on phones to send text messages instead of typing.

A Florida chiropractor who runs a business called the Text Neck Institute, has even created an app that notifies Android phone users when they need to sit up straight. The app causes a red light to appear in the top corner of the smartphone when it senses bad posture.

Patricia Burrows, of Lino Lakes, knows her reliance on technology has become a pain in the neck.

A social worker, she uses a netbook to fill out reports and often finds herself looking down at the screen held in her lap. She also relies on her smartphone throughout the day — to get directions for her home visits, to check Facebook and to read e-mails.

“I would say neck and shoulders are two of my hot spots. Those are vulnerable areas for me anyway because my posture is not great. This just makes it worse,” she said.

For relief from her gadget-related aches and pains, she makes regular visits to her chiropractor. She’s learned to do a variety of neck, shoulder and back stretches using weights and the walls in her home.

“It really comes down to self-care in between visits,” Burrows concluded. “The exercises are helpful.”

Dr. Carol Jillian-Ohana, a chiropractor at Cloudwalk Chiropractic in Lino Lakes, says many of her patients are in denial about their overuse of smartphones and related issues. “It’s a huge problem,” she said, estimating that technology is at least a contributing factor in 80 percent of her cases.

“There’s such a feeling of urgency about those devices,” she said, “because they make little noises and that reminds people to stay engaged.”

She said the struggle continues for her patients, even as they lie in her office hoping for relief.

Some have continued to text while lying on their stomachs on the adjustment table, Jillian-Ohana said. She’s even had patients jump off the table — to check their phones, of course.

 

Allie Shah • 612-673-4488

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