Smartphones can cause chronic pain and other health complications

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

Regular social media breaks and reducing the number of hours spent on devices is key to long-term health

New Delhi, 17 October 2018: Smartphones have not only taken over our everyday lives but also made us less smart about looking after our postural muscles, especially the ones in the neck. Constantly looking down into a hand-held screen or jutting the neck out while using laptops puts a lot of pressure on the spine. The number of hours we spend on various devices everyday makes us susceptible to a host of problems including acute and chronic neck, shoulder, back, elbow, wrist, and thumb pain.

Apart from device usage, the increased anxiety and stress related to answering messages and calls from time to time can trigger muscular spasms, aches and pains. It impacts breathing and functioning of structures, leading to poor posture. Allowed to fester, it can create painful knots in muscles further causing deep or chronic pain.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Prolonged use of mobile phones can cause neck pain, dry eyes, computer vision syndrome, and insomnia. About 60% of youth between 20 and 30 years of age fear losing their mobile phone, a condition called nomophobia. Push notifications, vibrations, and other alerts on our phones and computers make us feel compelled to look at them constantly. This, as per research, seems to trigger the same kind of neural pathways as during an imminent attack by a predator or in the face of some danger. This further means that our brain is constantly active and alert, albeit in a way that is not healthy for its functioning. We constantly seek that activity, and in the absence of it feel restless, agitated and lonely.”

Smartphone is also a cause for parent-child conflict in 30% of the cases. Often children get up late and end up going to school unprepared. On an average, people spend 30 to 60 minutes in the bed playing with the smart phone before sleep.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “Having access to so many different streams of information through gadgets has been found to decrease the brain’s grey matter density, which is responsible for cognition and emotional control. In this digital era, the key to good health should be moderation i.e. moderate use of technology. Most of us have become slaves to devices that were really meant to free us and give us more time to experience life and be with people. And we are leading our children in the same path as well.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Electronic curfew means not using any electronic gadgets 30 minutes before sleep.
  • Facebook holiday: Take a Facebook holiday for 7 days every three months.
  • Social media fast: Avoid use of social media once in a week for the entire day.
  • Use your mobile phone only when mobile.
  • Do not use computer for more than three hours in a day.
  • Limit your mobile talk time to more than two hours in a day.
  • Do not recharge your mobile battery more than once in a day.
  • Mobile can also be a source of infection in the hospital setup; therefore, it is disinfected every day.