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Iposture, text neck and screen sightedness: Smartphone users beware

If you own a smart phone or a tablet, now is the time to think twice before looking down at your phone to check email, send text message or to play games. In a study it was found that one out of the five people on this planet own a smart phone. This alarming increase in the use of these gadgets can cause problems like iPosture, ‘blackberry ‘thumbs, Wii-itis and screen sightedness, to name a few. The list of these ‘fancy’ disorders keeps increasing and is associated with the overuse of smart phones and tablets. According to a study, on an average, some of us check our smart phones up to 150 times in a day! And this causes postural, psychological and visual problems.

While using an electronic device we put overwhelming loads on our necks, shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands. These loads lead to repetitive stress or overuse syndromes which are similar to injuries occurring in athletes and sports persons. Repetitive keystrokes and mouse clicks not only puts us at risk for injury but also aggravate an existing or at-risk condition.

Let’s know more about some of the health concerns caused by overuse of smart phones and tablets, which are worrisome but fortunately reversible.

  • Wii-itis
  • ‘Iposture’ or ‘text neck’
  • ‘Blackberry’ thumbs
  • Screen sightedness
  • ‘Smart phone pinky’

Iposture is a term used to describe the stooped body posture adopted by those texting, emailing or playing games on their iPad or smartphone. This puts lots of strain on the muscles and ligaments of back and neck resulting in pain especially in young population

Text Neck is used to describe neck and shoulder pain complained by people who are constantly texting, emailing or tweeting on their smart phones and tablets. The constant flexed position of the neck puts lots of stress on the neck tissues and pain follows. Normally the weight of the head is supported by the neck. And for every one inch forward tilting of the head, the pressure on the spine doubles. Therefore, if the head weighs 5kgs in neutral position, it can exert an incredible load of up to 25kgs while looking down at an angle of 60 degrees! These loads can damage the neck tissues causing pain

Wii-itis is shoulder pain resulting for playing simulated games.

Blackberry thumbs is pain in the thumbs caused by repetitive keystrokes, resulting in tendinitis and pain.

Screen sightedness is a term used to describe the increased incidence of myopia or short sightedness, in people who constantly stare at the bright screens of tablets and smartphones.

Smart phone pinky is a condition resulting in temporary stiffness and deformity of little or pinky finger from prolonged bend posture of the finger

Tips for digital detoxification

  • Leave charger at home so u are forced to use phone sparingly
  • Hold your phone at eye level
  • Avoid smart phone and tab usage in bed and just before sleep
  • When on a trip, use digital camera and not your phone
  • Avoid constantly checking mails, face book posts and social media tweets
  • Uninstall games and start productive hobby or outdoor sports and physical activities
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    Head position Neutral 15 degrees 30 degrees 45 degrees 60 degrees
    Loads on spine 5-6kgs 12-13kgs 20kgs 25kgs 30kgs