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  • Study Contradicts Popular 'Text Neck' Theory

    Is there a connection between "text neck" and neck pain in young adults? Researchers from Brazil don't think so.

    Authors of a new study of 150 18-21 year-olds in Rio de Janeiro claim they found no connection between handheld device use posture and the presence or frequency of neck pain—a conclusion that runs counter to popular media reports that "text neck" is contributing to increased rates of neck pain worldwide. Results were published in the European Spine Journal (abstract only available for free).

    To study the possible connection, researchers asked the participants about the amount of time they spent "reading, writing, or playing" on their mobile phones, and then asked them to identify what they believed their texting posture was based on a series of 4 drawings: 2 that were dubbed by researchers to be "no text neck" (phones held higher, farther away from the body, resulting in a less tilted head position), and 2 labeled as "text neck" positions (phones held lower and closer to the body, forcing a greater head drop).

    Next, participants were photographed in profile while texting to establish a more objective view of texting posture. The photographs were analyzed by 3 physiotherapists and individual texting postures rated as "normal," "acceptable," "inappropriate," or "excessively inappropriate." Finally, participants were asked about the occurrence and frequency of neck pain and the degree to which they worry about body posture.

    While the physiotherapists identified 40% of the participants as demonstrating text neck, in the end, authors of the study found no association between reported neck pain and text neck—whether self-perceived or identified in photographs. "Unquestionably, there is an awkward neck position to be found in many mobile phone users but this does not, according to our results, imply an association with neck pain," authors write.

    That's not to say that handheld device use is harmless—or even that the use is not linked in some way to neck pain, researchers say. With 76.6% of participants reporting that they spend 5 hours or more day "reading, texting, and playing" on their mobile phones, authors believe it's entirely possible for problems to develop, even if they're not directly related to posture.

    "The high percentage of participants who use a mobile phone more than 4 hours per day…is a concern, since the time spent with this device seems to be a risk factor for hand/finger symptoms," authors write. "Furthermore, an excess of screen time could lead to physical inactivity which is associated with neck and back pain in young adults."

    Just don't pin that pain on posture, according to the study's authors, who write that the findings of their admittedly limited study "challenge the belief that inappropriate neck posture during mobile phone texting is the leading cause of the growing prevalence of neck pain."

    Research-related stories featured in PT in Motion News are intended to highlight a topic of interest only and do not constitute an endorsement by APTA. For synthesized research and evidence-based practice information, visit the association's PTNow website.


    • This is a real publication? such limited findings, more like a conference poster than a research article

      Posted by Yevgeniy Berenshteyn -> ALX`<K on 1/24/2018 8:07 PM

    • I definitely did not post the above comment... I'd find it fairly surprising if someone else in the PT world shares my name!

      Posted by Yevgeniy Berenshteyn on 11/3/2018 11:26 AM

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