Excessive use of cell phone may cause spinal arthritis

Excessive use of cell phone may cause spinal arthritis
Have you ever come across the term, ‘text neck’. Perhaps many of us have not. It is a syndrome that many people are gradually developing due to excessive use of mobile phones and tabs.

It may sound unbelievable to many people but excessive use of mobile phones and tabs might contribute in developing arthritis in spinal cord, warned the city doctors. People, who use their smart phones or other electronic gadgets with their heads flexed forward, they are in constant danger and risk of developing ‘text neck’. 

The frequent forward flexion and postural change affects the cervical spine and can also lead to muscular stiffness and pain. Especially, in the winter season, there is a higher chance of catching spine cord-related problems, as heavy winter wears put extra pressure on the neck.

Doctors in the city warned that if the curvature of the spine or the text neck syndrome was not treated in time, it may lead to spinal degenerative problems such as disc prolapsed, which can lead to pain, tingling sensations originating from neck into the arm. 

In more advanced situations, patients can develop numbness, loss of power in grip, weakness in legs and arms. In mild to moderate cases it can treated through physiotherapy and medications but in severe cases surgical intervention is required. 

The patients may have to undergo disc replacement surgery. The disease is characterised by headaches, pain in the upper back, shoulder and neck, doctors said. 

India ranked the second in terms of the number of mobile phone users with more than 600 million people having a mobile connection. 

Consequently, the growing dependence on mobile phones for communication has led to a sharp rise in messaging and texting. People are often hooked to social networking sites on their mobile phones with heads flexed. The postural changes give rise to ‘text neck’.

According to a survey, more than 75 per cent adults have a cell phone with them and most of them use their phones for over 20 hours a day. Not just mobile phones, there are Kindles, Tablets, and I-pads, excessive usage of which is responsible for the ‘text-neck’ syndrome, doctors warned.

Dr Sujoy Sanyal, Senior Consultant Minimal Access Spine and Brain Surgeon at Rabindranath Tagore Hospital, Kolkata said: “Of late, there has been an upsurge in number of people with text-neck syndrome. 

In the long term, text-neck can lead to spinal arthritis and disc prolapse, which may require surgical intervention. This may lead to disc replacement surgeries.”

Our spine is made up of 33 bones (24 articulating and 9 fused) called vertebrae supported by spongy inter-vertebral discs, which not only provide support to our neck and back but also enable mobility. As we age, factors such as improper posture, nutritionally deficient diet or abrasions make the spine stiff and vulnerable.

Conventional surgeries involve in removing the diseased disc between two cervical vertebrae and placing a bone graft in that slot to aid the formation of solid bone bridging the vertebrae. 

Complete removal of the diseased disc cures the pain. In artificial cervical disc replacement therapy, the old and diseased disc is replaced with a prosthetic device (artificial disc), which is specially designed to maintain mobility in the treated vertebral section. 

“It is impossible now to stay away from technology and mobile devices in today’s digital world. Youngsters should utilize them judiciously. Doing stretching exercises from time to time, holding the mobile phone at the eye level as much as possible and learning office ergonomics are some of the ways through which ‘text-neck’ syndrome can be prevented,” said Sanyal.  
Pradip Chatterjee

Pradip Chatterjee

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