Texting Can Be a Pain in the Neck, Shoulders
Study Shows Frequent Text Messaging May Cause Upper Body Pain
Nov. 12, 2009 -- Texting may be preferred over phone jabbering by many young
people, but too much text messaging may increase the risk of neck or shoulder
pain, a new study shows.
Judith Gold, ScD, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Temple
University’s College of Health Professions and Social Work, presented evidence
at this year’s meeting of the American Public Health Association suggesting
that the more college students texted, the more pain they reported in their
necks and shoulders.
She says in a news release that most people aged 18 to 21 prefer texting
rather than email or phone calls, possibly putting the younger generation at
increased risk for overuse injuries once associated with older folks who’ve
spent years tapping computer keys.
"What we’ve seen so far is very similar to what we see with office workers
who’ve spent most of their time at a computer," Gold says. "The way the body is
positioned for texting -- stationary shoulders and back with rapidly moving
fingers -- is similar to the position for typing on a computer.
"Looking around our campus, you see every student on their cell phones,
typing away,” she says in a news release. "It’s the age group that texts the
most, so it’s important to know what the health effects may be to learn whether
it will cause long-term damage."
Gold and colleagues conducted a study of 138 college students to see if
correlations exist between the number of text messages sent per day and pain in
the upper body.
They used body maps for the students to indicate areas of discomfort. The
students were asked how many text messages they sent per day.
The researchers say they found an association, only in male participants,
between shoulder discomfort and the number of messages punched out.
They propose that males might be particularly susceptible to physical
discomfort related to texting.
Why would texting cause pain in the neck and
shoulder rather than the wrists and arms? "We were really surprised at this
also," Gold tells WebMD. "Remember, this is a preliminary study, and further
research needs to be done to confirm the results."