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Neck Pain Smart Phones
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Smart Devices: A pain in the neck?

The Chiropractic Association (Singapore) [TCA(S)] confirms a recent study by Microsoft, Harvard

researchers and the US Department of Health that long usage of smart devices have a higher potential for

neck and shoulder pain.

 

Encouraged by the Complementary and Alternative Department of the Ministry of Health, Singapore,

TCA(S) embarked on a year long research survey in 2012. We investigated the long term effects of

smartphones, tablets and laptops on posture related on the head and neck with possible solutions.

132 patients from 14 member clinics, with complains of head, neck and shoulder pain participated in the

survey.

 

The majority of the participants were 20-50 years of age. About half were between 20-35 years,

indicating that a younger population may already be experiencing early signs and symptoms of

cervical diseases caused by poor biomechanics.

 

Almost all indicated that they compute from a desktop and another smart device. The average time spent

on the desktop and smart devices were equal. With smart devices, about 50% surveyed, spent 3-6 hours a

day on their smart devices while the rest, spent 7-12 hours a day. In addition, those using smart devices

for extended periods, indicated that they resorted to adopting poor postures to view their devices. These

poor posture included prolong neck flexion, telescoping their necks and/or propping pillows under their

heads.

 

Alarmingly, 76% mentioned that they were unaware of proper ergonomics and postural exercises to help

themselves. Only 4% had received information on proper posture through healthcare talks and other media.

Just half of the participants would attempt to adjust the height of their table and seat, however, most

complained that their office furniture were not appropriate for their body frame.

For existing neck pain sufferers, the TCA(S) survey had similar findings with randomized studies from

The British Medical Journal (2004) and The SPINE Journal (2011), that patients responded better when

cervical spinal alignment is accompanied with spinal rehabilitation exercises and ergonomic education

compared to manual treatment alone. Aside from ergonomic furniture, equal emphasis should be placed on

spinal exercises for correction and preventive measure.

 

The Chiropractic Association (Singapore) hopes to expand the research survey to include the general

population. In the next phase, TCA(S) also to focus on the younger population who are heavily utilizing

smart devices on a daily basis because they are likely to be highest at risk.



 
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