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  • Cherry Health Center

Is Technology Hurting Your Health?

According to a recent survey, Americans spend 5 hours on their phone or other mobile device. And, although some people try to reduce the amount of time they are anchored to their devices, plenty of people spend even more than five hours a day on their phone, tablet, or laptop. While this number might be disturbing, the peripheral effects of being constantly engaged with a piece of technology are far more worrisome.

So exactly how is technology impacting our health?  One of the most common problems arising from the overuse of technology is known as “tech neck.” This refers to the neck pain people get from constantly looking down at their phone and other devices. This pain can extend out towards the shoulders and down to the upper back.Think about it the next time you type out a text and you’ll see exactly how phones contribute to neck pain.

Phones aren’t the only thing to blame. People sit laptops on their laps to work and play games or read books on tablets. Even your desktop computer can contribute to tech neck if it isn’t in an optimal position. This means that people working on a computer all day are especially susceptible. So, putting down the phone isn’t necessarily a solution.

Another pain you may feel due to technology is sometimes called the “cyber slouch.”  This comes from the hunched over position people often find themselves when they are on mobile devices. This position creates pressure and pain in the lower back, which can expand to the mid-back and gluteal muscles. Those with existing back issues can put themselves in even more pain. Paying attention to posture can help reduce pain from cyber slouch.

Some people end up with repetitive stress injuries of the wrist and thumb. This used to only be something gamers had to worry about due to long hours holding game controllers. In fact, it’s often still called “gamer’s thumb!”  Today, however, this problem has grown to include people who text often and can even occur with mouse use. While inflammation and stiffness are common symptoms, pain and even arthritis can occur.

You can keep tech neck and cyber slouch-related pain at bay by lifting devices up to eye level. This allows you to use the device without constantly looking downward. This position also makes you less likely to slouch. When using a laptop, use a lap pillow that elevates your keyboard and screen. For your desktop, make sure your screen is at eye level and that you can type with your elbows at their natural level. If needed, use wrist pads to keep your hands, keyboards, and mouse at the same level.

If you’re suffering with nagging pain in your neck, shoulders, and back, you should consider seeking help. These issues may start as a small annoyance but they can lead to chronic pain. Give us a call to schedule a consultation – (417) 413-5900.

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