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Smaller the world, bigger the pain


Smaller the world, bigger the pain

From home to buses, to schools to restaurants and even in movie theaters, the commonest frame today is a person bending over looking at their mobile phone. While it is true that mobile has become a microcosmic world right at the palm of our hands, one thing gets unnoticed are the limits we push our body to spend time with our phones.

Recent figures have ranked India as the second-largest country concerning the number of mobile users with more than 600 million people using phones. With an introduction of tablets, iPads, and other devices, this new phenomenon is garnering more attention.

The hours spent by the neck on that restrained position is so long that it is slowly giving rise to the new epidemic namely, ‘text neck’. It is a worrying trend doctor feels like the importance of mobile cannot be substituted and spending long hours on it can give rise to spinal arthritis and disc collapse at a young age. Surgical intervention can only cure it.

Our heads weigh between 10lb and 12lb, the weight on the neck can increase to 27lbs at a 15-degree angle and 60lb at 60 degrees. Our spine is made up of 33 bones (24 articulating and 9 fused) called vertebrae supported by spongy intervertebral discs, which not only provide support to our neck and back but also enable mobility. As we age, factors such as improper posture, nutritionally deficient diet or abrasions make the spine stiff and vulnerable to wear and tear.

It is commonly not a serious ailment unless one is ignoring the symptoms for a long time that causes severe complications. Spinal arthritis is degenerative osteoarthritis of the joints between the centers of the spinal vertebrae. It is characterized by headaches, pain in the upper back, shoulder and neck, as well as increased curvature of the spine.

Blaming completely mobile phones would be wrong. This posture of bending your neck does not occur only when texting. For years, we’ve all looked down to read. The problem with texting is that it adds one more activity that causes us to look down. Sitting in front of desktops, playing chess, reading a book in a strained position for long hours, all can lead to muscle contractions causing muscle spasm.

Courtesy of Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj

Another complication can be disc prolapse. It leads to pain, tingling sensations from the neck into the arm and in more advanced situations numbness, loss of power of grip and weakness in the legs and arms.

When the head is over the shoulders, it is a bit like a balanced see-saw, and when you move it forward, you need to put a force in place to keep it in that position. The longer you are in that position for, the more the muscles have to accommodate it.

Doctors are especially concerned for the young and children, who could cause permanent damage to their cervical spines leading to lifelong neck pain. The neck is delicate that houses the spinal cord, which sends messages from the brain to control all aspects of the body – while also remarkably flexible, allowing movement in all directions, and strong.

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