Sat, Feb 02, 2013 - Page 11 News List

Using smartphones or tablet computers in bed increases neck and shoulder pain
床上低頭族 肩頸痠麻更嚴重

An ophthalmologist gestures while standing next to a patient wearing a neck brace while looking at her smartphone in Greater Tainan on Dec. 25 last year.

Photo: Meng Ching-tzu, Liberty Times

Doctors say that people who enjoy using their smartphones or tablet computers while lying in bed should be aware that the curve of cervical vertebrae while lying down is 45 degrees, compared to the 30-degree curve that occurs when seated, increasing one’s chances of experiencing soreness and stiffness in the neck and shoulders, as well as one’s hands going numb.

A female preschool teacher surnamed Fang, who purchased a smartphone several months back, had become obsessed with the constant access to new information at a moment’s notice, and was spending at least an hour every night in bed staring at her cellphone before going to sleep, checking posts online from friends on social networks. For the past half month, she had been having trouble moving her head after her neck stayed in a certain position for an extended period of time and was experiencing severe pain. After going to the Department of Physical Rehabilitation at Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital’s Greater Taichung Branch, it was discovered that her pain was caused by poor posture.

After using a hot compress, traction and diathermy to improve the symptoms in her neck, her physical therapist, Yang Chen-chia, suggested that she pay more attention to her posture and not look at her smartphone while lying in bed.

Yang says that the cervical vertebrae are structurally fragile, consisting of seven vertebrae in all. Problems can arise quite easily if a single vertebra is used excessively, particularly the fourth to sixth vertebrae. Yang once had a 30-year-old patient who, although quite young, had to have surgery because of severe degeneration in the cervical vertebrae.

Yang suggests that you see a physical therapist as soon as you start experiencing neck and shoulder pain in order to ease the symptoms through proper physical rehabilitative treatment. More than 80 percent of patients show good results, he says. Watching television or reading while lying in bed can cause neck and shoulder pain. Remember to move your shoulders and neck every 30 minutes, but be sure to control the range of motion and avoid moving too rapidly. Moving your head toward your chest, leaning your head back, turning your head to the left and right, and making circular shrugging movements with your shoulders can all help alleviate shoulder and neck pain, Yang says.


1. numb adj.

麻木的 (ma2 mu4 de5)

例: It’s so cold out that my face is completely numb.


2. obsessed with v. phr.

著迷 (zhao2 mi2)

例: Natalie’s obsessed with her new book. She read it three times this month.


3. posture n.

姿勢 (zi1 shi4)

例: I finally developed good posture after practicing yoga for several years.


(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)







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