Technology can be a pain in the neck

A smart phone or a computer can be a wonderful thing. They keep you connected, keep you entertained and even keep you busy.  However, they can also be a pain, quite literally.

"The problems were headaches. And I really didn't know where the headaches came from. Then my shoulders were tight," said patient Celeste Gill.

Slumping over, to get a closer look at that phone screen or computer screen has created a new wave of neck and back issues known among medical professionals as "text neck."

"That can cause short muscles in the front, where these muscles from being down in this position," explained physical therapist Eric Strahan. "It can cause the spin to get out of its natural curve and straighten which puts a lot more pressure on the spin."

Many physical therapists believe the rise of technology has created a rise in the number of patients they see with neck and back pain.  But, the root of the problem actually lies in how you hold you phone or sit at a desk - basically bad posture.

"People tend to get in these postures and hold these postures for a long time and it causes neck pains and neck problems. Over repeated use, it can manifest into a neck problem like disc herniations or early onset arthritis."

Between cooking and fielding calls for her catering business Chef Celeste Gill gets a double dose of the so called text neck.

"If the phone rings, you're going to answer the phone," said Gill. "I'm on the phone at the stove and doing everything and chopping."

Over time she developed pain in her shoulders and then unbearable headaches.  That's when she began physical therapy and learned a surprising lesson.

"I knew part of it was the cell phone but I would not have imagined that the posture was the main cause," said Gill.

Whether it's from being bent over a phone, a computer or a stove, physical therapists have several different ways to combat text neck including stretches and strength building exercises.

"The damage can be corrected with exercise, with physical therapy," said Strahan.

Bozant says the best advice is listen to what your mother said and practice good posture by holding your shoulders back, your back straight and your head up.  He also suggests that if you spend a lot of time at a desk to take a break and walk around every hour or so.

Copyright 2013 WAFB. All rights reserved.