Back Clinics of Canada Question of the Week: Neck and Shoulder Pain and Your Mobile Device

This week we received a question about a spouse who is experiencing a sore neck and sore shoulder.

My husband has been complaining of terrible neck and shoulder pain. I think it might be because he’s always looking down at his smartphone and iPad. But he’s not convinced and says I’m just nagging. Should he see a doctor?

Portrait of senior man using smartphoneIt is true that overuse of a mobile device can lead to neck pain. There’s a good article here that explains why this is so.

Neck and shoulder pain is increasing among the adult population, partly due to extended use of mobile and handheld electronic devices.

In ideal head posture, the head is held upright with the ears vertically in line with the shoulders. Yet mobile device users tend to hang their heads down and hunch their shoulders as they talk or text. Since the head is so heavy, this puts extra strain on the neck muscles and shoulder muscles. In the short term, this can lead to neck ache, stiff neck, and sore shoulders. In the long term, this can compress the discs of the neck and develop into a chronic pain condition.

These days, it’s hard to convince anyone to get through a day without their mobile device in hand; hence, convincing your husband to put his smartphone and tablet away (for even a few hours) might be unrealistic. That being said, here are some things one can do to alleviate neck pain and prevent stiff neck and sore shoulder.

  • Take regular breaks from using handheld devices
  • Do specific neck exercises and shoulder exercises designed to stretch and strengthen the muscles. Click here to see Dr. Ron Nusbaum’s neck stretching and strengthening videos
  • Use an easel for the tablet, or at least prop it at eye level for easy and conducive use
  • Hold the smartphone to your ear, keeping your head in proper alignment; a good set of ear buds with a built-in microphone is also recommended

If your husband’s neck pain and shoulder pain persist, take him to see a neck and back pain specialist. Dr. Ron Nusbaum, Director of Back Clinics of Canada, treats patients with serious, debilitating low back pain and neck pain. His High Performance Healing SystemTM — an advanced system that is non-invasive, non-surgical and drug-free — has great success with patients suffering from painful back and neck conditions.

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