Technology is evolving at a staggering rate, with remarkable advances that we could not have imagined even a few decades ago. This is, for the most part, to the great benefit of human life, yet there are some drawbacks as well. Human evolution is a very much slower process; we have not evolved in any way to accommodate the implications on the body of this new technology, and modern technology is one of the major causes of back pain in today’s media-centric society, and a reason for consulting a spine surgeon in NYC.
How Do Modern Devices Affect the Back and Spine?
Today in modern and affluent societies, a vast majority of us are glued to our handheld devices, including smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and the like. These are a normal and very valuable part of everyday life, and without them most of us, quite frankly, would feel lost. They enhance our lives by connecting us with others, providing a wealth of information instantly, and in many cases are critical for our safety.
Yet the effect on the body of these devices can be very detrimental to the spine, particularly the neck, and this is directly related to the postural changes this technology encourages.
Who is Most at Risk?
We are all at risk of being compromised by the effects of technology on the spine, but those at highest risk by far are children and adolescents. Adolescents in particular consider their handheld devices to be essential and many are within arm’s reach of their device at all times.
Over the last decade, doctors, and spine specialists in particular, have reported a dramatic change in overall spinal health in adolescents. These young people exhibit early signs of spinal degeneration that are usually only seen in people who are decades older. These early changes can be directly attributed to high usage of technological handheld devices, due to postural changes that occur due to slouching, slumping, and a forward neck posture. When the spine is still growing and developing, changes during this period are enhanced and set in place for life.
The Impact of Posture on the Body
Handheld devices are one of the biggest causes of neck pain and headaches, particularly in young people. Some children even begin playing on these devices in toddlerhood!
A study published in the medical journal, Surgical Technology International, in 2014, concluded that even just texting places up to fifty pounds of additional pressure on one’s spine, and this is concentrated in the neck. This represents up to five times the pressure on the neck from supporting the head in an upright position. It can result in loss of the natural curvature of the neck, slumping of the upper back, and added stress on the spine. This stress in turn can, over time, lead to irreversible changes in the spine and muscles of the back and neck, including degeneration, disc problems, and other issues throughout the body.
Children who essentially grow up in the “texting” position from using phones, tablets, handheld gaming consoles, and the like, will set in place a likelihood of neck pain, back pain, postural issues, and even early spine surgery. Studies have also shown a direct correlation between a child’s posture and spinal health and their ability to focus and concentrate.
What is the Solution to this Problem?
We need to be more mindful about how we use this technology. Some considerations include:
- Avoid spending long amounts of time hunched over devices
- Pay attention to posture
- Stretch regularly
- Raise your device higher when in use to decrease the neck angle required and to take the load off the head and neck
- Take plenty of breaks from device use
- Limit your child’s use of handheld devices
When Surgery is Required – See a Top Spine Surgeon in NYC
In some cases, long term damage is caused to one’s spine and this can include disc degeneration, kyphosis, and chronic neck pain. This is where it’s important to seek specialist medical advice, and there is no better person to see than Dr. Ezriel Kornel, a top spine surgeon in NYC. He will help to address the causes of neck pain and to offer surgical solutions when required.
Please call our office at (914) 351-3600 to make an appointment to see Dr. Kornel, or visit us online at topspinesurgeonnyc.com to learn more about how you can alleviate your back and neck pain due to the usage of modern technology.