ADVERTISING: Advertorial — DR. WAYNE M. FICHTER: Is texting setting your child up for a health crisis?

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Statistics show, more and more kids are spending a large portion of their day using mobile devices.

Kids under 8 look at mobile ones for an average of 48 minutes per day, according to a 2017 report from Common Sense Media. The nonprofit advocacy group also found the number of children living in a home with some type of mobile device jumped from 52 percent in 2011 to 98 percent in 2017.

Pew Research Center performed a study on teens between the ages of 11 and 17 and found that 45 percent said they were online almost constantly.

Ever stop and think what all that is doing to your child’s health?

When your child tilts their head down and forward because they’re bent over a device of some sort, they are actually taking the normal curve out of their neck. This decrease in cervical curve puts additional strain on the muscles, tendons and ligaments in their neck. As they lean forward they tend to round their shoulders forward, which creates additional problems in the upper thoracic spine.

With the use of mobile devices increasing daily, I’ve been noticing an increase in corresponding neck and upper thoracic pain and headaches amongst my patients. This condition is starting to get labeled as “text neck.”

Symptoms of text neck include, but are not limited to:

• Instant upper back or neck pain when using a handheld device.

• Nagging or sharp pain in the neck or shoulders at the end of the day.

• General shoulder pain and tightness.

• Intermittent or constant headache made worse when looking down or using the computer

“Text neck,” or forward head posture, is caused by poor posture from hunching over a device for long periods of time. What you want to look for is rounded shoulders and the head hanging down and forward.

When kids spend a large amount of time in this position they can start to experience pain. Researchers have noted that doctors are seeing an increase in children coming into their offices for back and neck pain, and that increase seems to go hand-in-hand with the increase in mobile device use. What’s more, poor posture tends to breed more poor posture, which can quickly become an unhealthy habit.

Posture and healthy physiology function are interrelated. A study performed in 1994, and reported in the American Journal of Pain Management, proves this concept: “Posture affects and moderates every physiological function from breathing to hormonal production. Spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure and lung capacity are among the functions most easily influenced by posture.”

As you can see, poor spinal alignment can lead to a whole list of problems that you might not think to correlate with poor posture, but they do. The effects of bad posture can be long-lasting; consider the fact that back and neck pain is only the first symptom.

Young people are not the only population at risk. Go out to any restaurant and look around- adults are also at risk. Are you addicted to your phone?

Technology isn’t going anywhere. If anything, it’s getting more advanced. So how can we minimize the risks? Talk to your chiropractor, they are trained to treat forward head posture in all age groups and can provide advice on achieving a balanced healthy lifestyle for your whole family.

• • •

Dr. Wayne M. Fichter Jr. is a chiropractor at Natural Spine Solutions. The business is located at 3913 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene, 208-966-4425.

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