Text neck increase in teens using cellphones

JOPLIN, Mo. (KODE12) – A study by common Sense Media shows teens are spending 9 hours a day on their computers, or cell phones. But what they may not know about is a painful side effect known as “text neck.”

“It’s very common and in fact, it’s something that we’re seeing more cases of because the proliferation of cell phones,” explained Joplin chiropractor Dr. Tom Dunlap.

Dr. Dunlap, says it happens after looking down too long on your computer, or cell phone.

“It’s an unnecessary strain on the neck, which pulls the neck bones out of place,” Dr. Dunlap added.

It happened to Erin Kelley — a Missouri Southern State University student, who’s only 20 years old.

“I kind of noticed it at the end of my senior year of high school and beginning of my freshmen year of college, and I just had a lot of like lower neck pain and kind of in my back too,” said Kelley.

And after she came in for a visit, Dr. Dunlap told Kelley she was diagnosed with text neck, and she was surprised.

“I didn’t know that people my age have neck pains. I didn’t know that many people do,” Kelley continued.

Through x-rays, Kelley found out the aligning of her neck had moved.

“My neck was curved the wrong way and we were both kind of surprised like the degree that it was,” said Keley. “I had no idea that my neck was even damaged or hurt in any way.

Kelley blames it on looking down at her computer for long periods of time to study.

“And there’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to look at computers, and with computers you want to try to keep the reading material in front of your eyes,” Dr. Dunlap explained. “Where people get in problems is their head is bent down for an extended period of time.”

It even happened to Joplin resident Eddie Thomas.

His pain, likely caused by computer and cell phone usage, was so bad he couldn’t turn his neck.

“I was in a great deal of pain and it had affected me,” said Thomas. “Not only in my arm, getting down into my arms, but it started bothering my lower back it was leading to other problems like my legs.”

After a few adjustments by the chiropractor, Thomas feels like a new man.

“I can rest. I can sleep on my back. I had never slept on my back in years,” Thomas added. “Now I can sleep on my back without any pain. Usually, I have pain.”

Chiropractors say to hold your cell phone out as much as possible, instead of bringing it right here to text. And, Dr. Dunlap says the treatments vary from how severe the neck is misaligned, but Thomas is happy he stuck it out.

“I feel like I can dunk a ball again like I used to in high school. I feel great, to be honest,” said Thomas.

Dr. Dunlap says reading can also contribute to neck pain.

He suggests not lowering your head to your chest for longer than two to five minutes.