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By Jason D. Cohen, MD, FACS

 

It’s hard to walk down the street or walk into a cafe and NOT see people looking down at their smartphones. But, be smart . . . too much time with your neck in a flexed position could cause aches and pains in your neck. The long periods of time you spend bending forward to check texts and emails, play games, or work on an electronic device can have serious effects on the soft tissue within your back and upper neck.  

Dr. Jason Cohen, spinal surgeon at Professional Orthopaedic Associates, says the aches and pains could be the result of an extended period of time looking down at your phone. Obviously, people who spend more time on their devices may experience more severe symptoms. Dr. Cohen, who is the chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Monmouth Medical Center, recommends following these guidelines to avoid neck and back pain:

  • Good posture is the key: When possible, keep your device at eye level so that your cervical spine is not constantly in flexion. Investing in a device or case to prop up your mobile device may help improve posture.  
  • Schedule breaks: If you are using your device for an extended amount of time, set a timer so you can take a break. Stand up and stretch or take a quick walk around.  
  • Turn your device off: This is especially recommended during meal time and before bedtime.

If you are experiencing back or neck pain, you should consult with a board-certified, fellowship-trained spinal surgeon for an evaluation.