Poor posture and excessive screen time can lead to text-neck syndrome; Here’s how to prevent it

Improper posture during extended screen use is leading to a growing health issue known as text-neck syndrome.

In an age dominated by technology, a rising health concern is emerging as people spend prolonged periods in front of screens, either working or engaging with personal devices. Improper posture during extended screen use is leading to a growing health issue known as text-neck syndrome. This condition refers to repetitive stress on the neck caused by leaning the head forward for extended durations. The resultant strain on neck muscles can lead to long-term spinal complications.

On World Spine Day, Dr. Tarun Suri, Head of Spine Surgery at Amrita Hospital Faridabad, emphasized that poor posture has become a leading cause of back and neck pain, affecting approximately 70% of outpatient department (OPD) patients. He highlighted that poor screen etiquette, characterized by prolonged use of gadgets with a bent neck, is a significant contributing factor to the prevalence of text-neck syndrome.

Research indicates that individuals between the ages of 25 and 45 are most commonly affected by postural back pain. Poor posture stands as a primary cause of neck and back pain in young and middle-aged individuals, leading to significant work loss, hospital visits, and treatment expenses.

Over time, posture issues can damage spinal discs, induce muscle spasms, and potentially lead to chronic pain, disc degeneration, and even necessitate surgery in severe cases. Surprisingly, this issue is not limited to adults, as children aged 10-20 years are also experiencing postural spine pains. Poor studying posture, excessive gadget use, and carrying heavy school bags are identified as significant causes of back pain in this age group.

Early warning signs of neck and back pain or potential chronic pain often manifest as neck pains, radiating pains in the arm, altered spinal alignment, lower back pain, and morning stiffness in the neck or lower back. However, with regular exercise and proper practices, these symptoms can be prevented.

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Dr. Abhishek Srivastava, Senior Consultant in Spine Surgery at Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vaishali, emphasized the importance of clinical examination and sometimes radiological tests like whole spine X-rays and MRI to identify postural issues. He suggested a daily routine incorporating fast walking and spine exercises, such as range of movement, extension, core strengthening, and chin tucks, to both prevent and correct poor posture.

Taking steps to improve posture is essential, and it begins with avoiding the habit of looking at a digital device screen with a bent neck. Dr. Suri advocated for raising screens to eye level to maintain a neutral neck position. He also recommended using speakerphones or headphones during extended cell phone conversations to reduce the strain on the neck.

Adopting practices like avoiding prolonged periods in one position, improving the ergonomics of work and home environments, and maintaining a neutral back position during sitting can contribute to prevention. Additionally, taking short breaks to stretch the back after continuous sitting, along with incorporating stretching exercises for the neck during prolonged computer use and morning exercises, can aid in maintaining spine muscle circulation, flexibility, and strength.

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