Smartphones and tablets causing a real pain in the neck known as 'Text Neck'

Chiropractor seeing younger & younger patients

LITTLETON, Colo. - Every day we spend two to four hours hunched over, reading emails, sending texts and updating Twitter.

Some kids are spending as much as 5,000 hours a year reading their cellphones, leading to chronic pain known as "text neck."

7NEWS Reporter Kristen Skovira spoke to a local doctor who says his patients are getting younger and younger.

"I always look down at my phone," said Sarah Atchison.

But looking down at her smartphone -- often for hours at a time -- left the 14-year-old with a pain in her neck.

"It was mostly just achy. And it made it really hard to concentrate," she said.
 
"'Text Neck' is where the proper curve in the cervical spine actually gets reduced and can even move forward," said Dr. Chad Cotter with HealthSource Chiropractic in Littleton.

A good curve is ideally 40-degrees, but Atchison’s X-rays show a very different story.

"This should be shaped like the red line. But this girl has lost that neck curve and it has moved to a classic reverse curve or 'text neck,'" Dr. Cotter explained.

Dr. Cotter is helping patients reverse damage that used to take decades to develop.

"Tension across the shoulders, generalized neck pain, migraines. It can even be numbness and tingling down the arms that we're seeing in high-schoolers. It's alarming. It's setting those kids up to have major problems as adults," he said.

Using head-weights, shoulder exercises, resistance bands and re-adjustments, Dr. Cotter and his team work to strengthen patients' neck and back muscles. He says these treatments, if done properly, can quickly counteract the symptoms of smartphone use and alleviate texting tension.  

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