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Ordis, tablets, smartphones… The neck and hands are their first victims

Ordis, tablets, smartphones… The neck and hands are their first victims New technologies can have a deleterious impact on our skeleton. Their use pushes us to adopt unusual postures, likely to generate pain. And it is women who are most affected.

The multiplication of screens in our daily lives tires the eyes and disturbs our sleep because of the blue light they emit. But computers, mobile phones and digital tablets cause other damage when they are misused:they induce pain in the neck, shoulders, back, wrists and fingers. Women suffer more than men because their muscles are less developed.

In addition, they adopt worse postures in front of screens, according to a study by the University of Nevada (United States) published in June 2018 in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science . Result:70% of heavy screen users (more than 5 hours a day) have musculoskeletal symptoms , compared to only 30% for men.

Text-neck, a real epidemic of neck pain

When we type on our smartphone, our head is generally tilted downwards. But it weighs a certain weight:from 4.5 to 5.5 kilos! The neck and upper back, which are generally curved, are therefore put to the test. When the head is tilted 30 degrees, they support an additional pressure of 18 kilos. And if the head is at a 60 degree angle, which is common when facing screens, they are 27 kilos overweight.

Hence muscular tension in the trapezius muscles and neck pain that the Anglo-Saxons call "text-neck". An American study from the Cedars-Sinai Center (Los Angeles) even suggests that the intensive use of tablets and smartphones can lead to spinal deformities and the appearance of herniated discs.

To avoid this unnecessary pain, do not hold your smartphone too low, so as to maintain the anatomical alignment of the head and neck. Also, do not use your tablet lying flat on a table, especially to watch a movie. Elevate it and lean it towards your eyes by stacking four to five books or use a dedicated stand.

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Textonitis or tendonitis of the thumb

Thumb pain is increasingly common among young people who text all day long. These smartphone fanatics – 20% send messages for 2 to 4 hours a day – overuse the tendons of their fingers, hence the occurrence of tendonitis. Inflammation can also reach the wrists, as in knitters of the last century. The pain is such that some sometimes no longer manage to eat in the evening at the table with cutlery. It is not the intensity of the effort that creates these disorders, but the repetition of gestures and the absence of breaks.

To avoid this, do not use your smartphone for more than 30 minutes in a row and stretch your fingers regularly. You can also relax them by kneading a foam ball several times a day.

Low back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome due to the computer

A quarter of people who work at a computer complain of pain in the neck and lower back. Stress combined with poor posture are the cause. Prolonged immobility in a seated position aggravates the problem insofar as the muscle fibers are constantly stimulated. They can no longer relax. Repetitive finger movements due to mouse use also increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome due to overuse of the median nerve of the hand, located at the base of the wrist.

It then begins to swell and is compressed in its channel. The pain can go up to the shoulder. Women are more prone to it at the end of the menstrual cycle because of the hormonal yoyo which promotes swelling of the hands. Pregnancy and menopause are also periods of risk.

Simple rules to escape pain

To avoid this damage, rearrange your desk so that your eyes are halfway up your computer screen. Sit with your feet flat on the ground, legs uncrossed so as not to unbalance the pelvis and keep your shoulders relaxed. To relieve your hands, rest your forearms on the work table. Also take regular breaks to stretch and change positions. Also get up from your seat if possible for at least 5 minutes every hour.

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