SINGAPORE – You might love that smartphone of yours but it sure does not love you back.All that bending over to peer at the screen for long periods may well be causing serious repetitive stress injuries to the neck. The bad posture can also lead to injuries in other parts of the body. There is now a whole new assortment of pain, no thanks to technology.
With Singapore having one of the most mobile-savvy populations in South-east Asia, the number of people with neck, shoulder, wrist and finger pain from using mobile devices is also on the uptick, said Ms Ruby Poh, senior physiotherapist at Singapore General Hospital (SGH).
Overall, repetitive stress injury is fairly common, with a prevalence of 5 per cent to 10 per cent in the general population, but rising to 30 per cent for specific groups such as people working in the manufacturing industry, said Dr Darren Tay, a consultant at the department of orthopaedic surgery at SGH. Also, there are more young people now complaining of neck ache, he said.
Magnetic resonance imaging scans are likely to show that things are normal as there is no structural damage to their bones, unlike in the elderly, who may have degenerative changes because of diseases such as osteoarthritis. However, there may be damage to the tendons and muscles in the neck, said Dr Tay.
The head weighs about 4kg, he said. If it is bent forward 3cm when a person is peering at a screen, its weight is doubled. When bent even further forward, the weight could be tripled. All this time, the muscles at the back of the neck have to constantly pull the head back.
“The continuous strain is not felt until you feel tired at the end of the day or week. Over time, you can get what is known as ‘text neck’, a chronic neck ache.