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Cyber Monday, text neck and blackberry thumb....a warning revisited

Could the benefits of smart phones be out weighed by their health risks?

Constantly looking down at an angle places enormous strain on the spine and can result in permanent harm, according to a new report featured in today’s Guardian. A warning made by Carl Irwin, chiropractor 9 years ago.

Are smartphones a pain in the neck? According to new research carried out by a US doctor, they are far worse – “text neck” is becoming an epidemic that could lead to permanent damage.

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The posture we adopt as we stare at our phones, according to the surgeon behind the paper, increases the stress on the neck and can cause excessive wear and tear that may eventually require an operation to correct it. Dr Kenneth Hansraj says that although our heads weigh between 10lb and 12lb, as we angle them down to look at our phones, the effective weight on our necks increases – at a 15-degree angle it is about 27lb rising to 60lb at 60 degrees. With smartphone users now spending an average of two to four hours a day with their heads dropped down, this results in “700 to 1,400 hours a year of excess stresses seen about the cervical spine”, according to the research. It is not the first time we have been warned about the dangers of texting. In 2011 it was blamed for an increase in pedestrian deaths in the US, with some towns considering the introduction of fines for people who text while walking.

Carl Irwin

Carl Irwin

Interviewed on London Tonight in 2005, Carl Irwin, Edgware Chiropractor originally  reported on “Blackberry thumb” in Ergonomic News – a repetitive strain injury caused by texting, saying that smart phones and texting where going to have ramifications on posture and spinal health – this too has been joined by “iPad hand”, aches and pains caused by swiping and typing on a tablet. The list of ailments expands with every new piece of technology.

Acknowledgements to the Guardian editorial team

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