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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Beware! Text Neck Syndrome in Nigeria

The mobile smartphone-induced syndrome is on the widespread in Nigeria, REMMY NWEKE reports that the alarming aspect is that most subscribers, especially youngsters are ignorant of the potential Scoliosis.
 
NOWADAYS, waking up at 6am, Lebe Onukaogu, an undergraduate reaches out to his mobile phone to access the world of Information and Communications at his fingertips. From checking his electronic mails to social media platforms, mostly What’s App, Twitter, Facebook just to name a few from the over 1,000 social networking sites; and invariably to respond to some he felts passionately about, then the conversation continues for the day.

Of course, in doing the aforementioned, Lebe would either be standing at a corner of the house or sitting but most of the time whilst these checks lasted, he is slantly bent to have a better view of his readings, and keying-in of letters to ensure that those reflect his thoughts and personality.

Over time, the continuous exercise of this lifestyle resulted in Lebe recently developing pains on the backbone of his neck. At first, on visiting a nearby clinic, he was told could have been a fever or malaria. A laboratory test eventually could not show any of the above. 

The pains lingered for some more days and week went by, until he went to a general hospital, where after the initial examination, the medical director referred him to a specialist, a physiotherapist.

DigitalREALMS gathered that Physiotherapy is a science-based profession and takes a ‘whole person’ approach to health and wellbeing, which includes the patient’s general lifestyle, thus Physiotherapists help to restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness or disability, according to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

Nigeria’s 149,179,083 active subscribers:
Like Lebe Onukaogu, are you one of the Nigeria’s 149,179,083 active subscribers of the Global System for Mobile (GSM) communications, tendency is that you are one of those having text-neck pains among every five (10) subscribers, due to constant use of your cherished mobile phone.

Hear this, experts have it that most Nigerians may be suffering from this new-breed ailment from the use of a mobile phone, especially those who use mobile phone extensively in order to stay connected.

With the number of mobile subscribers in Nigeria increasing, it is alarming to note that most Nigerians are unaware about the ‘Text Neck’ disease which refers to the over-use syndrome or stress injury which occurs with persistently having one’s head hung forward and down looking at their mobile electronic devices for presumed extended duration than could have been necessary, according to the American chiropractor who coined the word, Dr. Dean L. Fishman.

Investigations by DigitalREALMS showed that most Nigerians are not aware of the Text-Neck syndrome, even as estimated one in every 10 Nigerian mobile subscriber may be suffering from text-neck disease unknown to them, as each of those interviewed acknowledged having neck-pains, but could not just attribute it to extensive usage until the syndrome was explained.

Respondents also alluded to the fact that they took it for granted as one of those pains but never associated with the supposed syndrome, yet several dosage of analgesics have not been helpful in relieving their miseries.

According to Statista.com forecast on Nigeria, DigitalREALMS reports that the number of smartphone users in Nigeria for 2016, is estimated to reach 15.5 million by December 31, which is expected to pave the way for an increase in social media and mobile devices access and by implication rise to text neck syndrome.

Top 3 apps keeping you fixed on smartphones:
In Nigeria, DigitalREALMS gathered that a range of reasons affect multiple mobile phones usage and ownership, according to recent findings by Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB) Mobile Experience Centre released new report on “How I Use My Phone” series, which aims at gathering and sharing data on the pattern of mobile phone usage of different user demographics in the country.

The survey revealed that students use their mobile phones mainly for social networking with Whatsapp, Blackberry Messenger and Facebook being the top 3 most used applications by 28.4 per cent, 19.4 per cent, 13.4 per cent respectively. Social networking is a major reason and accounts to 89.6 per cent why they subscribe to internet bundles regularly.

Is mobile phone destroying your spine?
Though efforts to speak to the leadership of the Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy led by Taiwo Oyewumi was not fruitful at the time of this report, but a renowned physiotherapist and chief executive of Lagos-based Ageless Physio Clinic, Dr. Oluyomi Aoko, articulated that mobile smartphones after-all may be destroying our spines due to wrong postures.

Modern mobile devices, he said, are changing the way people access information and entertainment, thus, their usage influences human posture and body mechanics in ergonomically dysfunctional ways that contribute to neck, upper back, shoulder, and arm pains. he also said, poor posture while sitting, standing, walking or in a static position could lead to eventual total collapse of the spine in some cases, mainly among youngsters, who recent study in the United States by Adweek.com, showed that 79 per cent of the population between the ages 18 and 44 have their mobile phones with them almost all the time, with only 2 hours of their waking day spent without their cell phones on hand.

Symptoms of text neck syndrome:
As said by Dr. Aoko, the symptoms come as neck pain ranging from a chronic, nagging pain to sharp, severe upper back muscle spasms; Shoulder pain and tightness, possibly resulting in painful shoulder muscle spasm; Pinched cervical nerve, turning to pain and possibly neurological symptoms that could radiate down one’s arm and into their hand; as well as increased curvature in youngsters which could result into scoliosis.

Scoliosis, as defined by experts at WebMD.com is a lateral curvature in the normally straight vertical line of the spine. When viewed from the side, the spine should show a mild roundness in the upper back and shows a degree of swayback - inward curvature in the lower back. When a person with a normal spine is viewed from the front or back, the spine appears to be straight. When a person with scoliosis is viewed from the front or back, the spine appears to be curved.

Therapy for text-neck:
Further, Dr. Aoko of Ageless Physio Clinic proffered some therapy to aid text-neck victims, advising, “Don’t bend your neck to look at a screen- this way you can maintain good posture, relieving your back and shoulders from the strain of being hunched over; Hold your mobile device at about eye level-holding the phone closer to eye level helps maintain a healthy posture and puts less strain on the neck; Practice exercises that strengthen your posture and be sure to stretch often between long periods of extended use of devices. 

You can rotate your shoulders with your arms by your sides to relieve tension. You can also tuck your chin down to your neck and then look up – this helps to relieve some of the tension in your neck built from the common forward-down position you adopt when looking at your device.

Conclusion:
The fact is that though text neck is becoming a common syndrome among phone users globally, Nigerians are not exonerated which could vary from a slight twinge to severe pain across the neck spines down to your back, most people recover quickly from this mobile device induced-back pain, if well and quickly managed properly.

Furthermore, experts at Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) explained how therapies could help, beginning with tips on self-help, bearing in mind there is a lot individuals could do to help their healing process. This comprises continuing with your usual work and activities, as much as possible, could help resolve patient’s back pain in addition to some exercises that could reduce back pain and prevent from it returning. Hence, the right sort of exercise, as may be advised by a physiotherapist, could actually make a big difference.

Research, DigitalREALMS reports, has shown lower back pain may return if it is ignored, while experts insist that lifestyle changes, such as being more active and improving one’s posture, are important elements to remedying the text neck pains along other kinds of backache or pains prevalent in the society.

Additionally, the society concluded by outlining some top tips for back pain including text neck such as exercise and activity are known as the most important ways of helping oneself off the agony of back pains. Just as patients, are advised to keep moving and continue with activities such as walking or swimming; taking analgesics for pain-killers as prescribed by qualified medical practitioner or physiotherapist, could help one to keep moving comfortably; just as they advised against sitting for too long when driving or at work.

Gently stretching to prevent stiffness, the society said, could form part of the healing magic, while taking care when lifting, bending one’s hips and knees to use the power in their legs adequately goes a long way; whereas checking one’s posture when using computers, mobile devices for games or watching television, which tend to last for a duration beyond usual expectation is advocated.

CSP experts added that one needs to check the mattress on the bed to ensure it supports individuals properly; “Don’t smoke – it impairs your circulation, which affects how quickly the body could recover; strengthening of one’s trunk muscles may help to protect the back, emphasizing that car seat and office chair are adjusted correctly in support of one’s back,” while maintaining a healthy eating habit by way of good diet and exercise, as being overweight could be a cause of back pain notwithstanding text neck related activities.


Above all, beware, text neck syndrome is here in Nigeria and likely to stay as long as our addiction to smart mobile devices suffice.

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