Smartphone causes misalignment of the users neck – a humanitarian study shows

Many cities have housing problems. The shoebox living space of the poor area has caused many major spinal deformities such as scoliosis and hyperkyphosis. World leading spine experts claim that people who spend hours hunched over smartphone in small living spaces are seriously damaging their necks, as witnessed by the rise in cases of 'straighten neck syndrome”.

Dr. Eric Chun Pu Chu, a humanitarian of spinal care in Hong Kong
Dr. Eric Chun Pu Chu, a humanitarian of spinal care in Hong Kong

New York Medical Group has been providing pro bono operations for the poorest residence and minority, including spinal adjustments for scoliosis, rehabilitation for arthritis, and management of orphan diseases.

“The office workers who depend on their smartphone daily, are commonly suffering from the suicidal pain and numbness of upper extremities. The patient relies on pain killer just for partial relief of the symptoms continuously for 6 months.” described by Dr. Taebum Lim, chiropractor at New York Medical Group, a PEAK Clinic of Life University.

Almost 80 percent of people living in subdivided flats or similar conditions have problems with their spines. These workers are being treated for neck pain, numbness and alignment issues caused by the prolong poor posture, the study authors write in Journal of Medical Cases.

“In a normal X-ray, the neck typically curves backward, and what we're seeing is that the curve is being reversed as people look down at their phones for hours each day. This is what we called the Straighten Neck Syndrome.”, said by author Dr. Eric Chun-Pu Chu, a humanitarian of spinal care and chairman of Chiropractic Docrtors’ Association of Hong Kong.

“By the time patients get to the humanitarian clinic, they're already in a degenerated mode, injured disc, and reversed in its shape. Sometimes the condition can be very bad and the management will be similar to the orphan disease," Dr. Chu told the Journal.

The patient presented with several postural alterations, including anterior forehead carriage (Fig. 1a), high left shoulder and mild to moderate thoracic hyperkyphosis. In the beginning, the chiropractor focused on adjusting the cervical mobility and restoring neurological function. After four weeks, all sensorimotor deficits disappeared. The doctor then focused on adjusting the cervical misalignment and correcting forward head posture and vertebral instability for another month. The patient reported complete relief of pain and full mobility of his neck after completion of 2-month treatment. Restored lordotic curvature of the neck maintained and was demonstrated on X-ray at the 9-month follow-up (Fig. 1b).


Figure 1.
Cervical hypolordosis on lateral X-rays. (a) Pre-treatment sagittal radiograph revealed loss of cervical lordosis, with neck curvature of 7° (range: 20° to 35°). (B) Nine months later, note the restoration of cervical curvature after chiropractic treatment, measured 35° by posterior tangent method.

Dr. Mak, co-author and orthopedic spine surgeon at the Spine Central, concluded that correction of neck posture itself can substantially help alleviate the symptoms of arm numbness.

Radiculopathy is a neurological condition where nerve conduction on the nervous system or the spinal roots is blocked. 78% of cervical radiculopathies are caused by the nerve encroachment by degeneration of spine. All other radiculopathies are likely caused by disc herniation and spinal instability. In acute situation, the tingling and needle pain is usually caused by compression and irritated inflammation of the joint, whereas in chronic stage, pain is usually caused by soft tissue fibrosis. The natural history of radiculopathy is generally thought to be favorable, and conservative approach is advocated as initial modality for most patients.

With more low-income families living in the smaller living space, children have to do homework in bed and their spines are still growing and not developed. We are concerned what may happen in the future, if they hunch over and addicted to their phones all day. As the new study found, chiropractic adjustments appeared to offer a treatment efficacy for radicular pain for patient with bad posture with reduce neck curve. Chiropractic care would be one of the leading nonoperative regimens for preventing morbidities and avoiding unnecessary medication and surgery.

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