Is your smartphone causing damage to your spine? According to research recently published by a New York spinal surgeon, Kenneth Hansraj, M.D., the rise in smartphone use is leading to an epidemic of "text neck," a degenerative condition affecting the neck and spine.

Text Neck can happen anywhere at anytime

What Causes Text Neck?

The average weight of a human head is about 12 pounds. However, when you tilt your head forward to look down at a smartphone or tablet, the pressure on your neck can be up to 60 pounds. According to the study, people spend an average of two to four hours every day looking down at a phone, so it's no surprise that increasing numbers of people are feeling the painful effects of text neck.

Text Neck Symptoms

Experiencing neck pain or back pain toward the top of your spine? It's quite likely that you are one of the many modern sufferers of text neck. However, according to Dr. Hansraj, aches and pains are not the only effects of this condition. The excess stresses placed on the neck could over time lead to early wear and tear, which could even mean that sufferers eventually need surgery to repair the damage.

Proper Posture

The best way to avoid text neck is to put your phone away and concentrate on keeping good posture throughout the day. That means keeping your ears directly over your shoulders and imagining the top of your head reaching toward the ceiling. Squeeze your shoulder blades together slightly and try to bring them down the back, as though you were trying to put each shoulder blade in the opposite back pocket of your pants.

Supporting Your Spine

As well as keeping your spine properly aligned during the day, it's also important to have good spinal support at night. Sleeping on an unsupportive mattress can exacerbate the effects of poor daytime posture and make the pain caused by text neck worse than ever. In contrast, gel memory foam mattresses, along with the proper pillow, will keep your neck and spine aligned while you sleep, minimizing the strain on your back and neck. Getting a good night's sleep with your spine properly supported can help to relieve some of the stresses of the day, allowing you to wake feeling refreshed and free from neck and back pain.