Helen Clare Physio News & Updates

Neck pain from using IPhones, IPads and Tablets

Over the past 12 months we have been seeing an increased number of people experiencing neck and upper back pain associated with the use of  IPhones, IPads or other types of tablet devices.

 Of course the advantage of using these devices for emails and any web-based activity is that we can do it anywhere, anytime.  On the train or bus, as a passenger in the car, sitting on the lounge or in bed, in waiting-rooms and at times I have observed, even when walking down the street. The disadvantage of their use is they encourage us to have our necks in a forward posture and because of their convenience for an ever increasing amount of time per day.

The small size of the screens and the small text also encourages our heads to be down which perpetuates the problem.

The forward or protruded head and neck posture stretches the ligaments and joints in the back of the neck and upper back. An analogy to this would be to walkover on our ankle for hours per day.  Having the head and neck forward also requires the muscles that extend down the neck to the shoulder tip (trapezius muscle) to contract in an attempt to stabilise our head position.  This results in a sensation of constant tightness in these muscles.

Even more seriously sustained forward head postures have been shown to be associated with disc pathology in the lower cervical spine.

After years of improved ergonomic awareness when we are sitting using computers it was anticipated that the incidence of neck pain would reduce.

However the increased use of Iphones, Ipads and other devices such as tablets by all age groups appears to be having the opposite effect.  It is certainly difficult to maintain an erect posture when using them but to reduce the incidence of neck pain it is important to attempt to do so.  

Keeping the device elevated as much as possible and regularly pulling your head and neck back over the shoulders will assist. Limiting the amount of time that you are in the head forward posture will also be beneficial.

If you make these changes and your neck pain persists you should consult one of the physiotherapists at Helen Clare Physiotherapy who can provide you with other strategies.