WHAT IS CELL PHONE SPINAL SYNDROME:
Six Ways to Prevent CPSS
Cell Phone Spinal Syndrome (CPSS) is the name used by some health care professionals for the signs and symptoms associated with losing the normal curves in the spine, especially the neck because of bad posture and looking down at the cell phone for hours each day. Headaches, stiff necks, TMJ dysfunction, and pain are the common symptoms of losing the healthy curve of the neck spine. There are many things that cause CPSS (seen on x-ray as a “straight neck”), not only the excessive use of cell phones. Because of the dramatic increase of straight necks seen among teenagers and young adults from 2005 to 2015, the advent of the cell phone is understandably getting much of the blame.
At Cedar City Chiropractic, we understand the effects of lifestyle on the spine. Our culture promotes bad spinal curves and degeneration. We sit a lot, we read looking downward, watch TV with head bent forward, sit hunched forward in front of a computer screen, sleep with our head propped up, and yes, look downward much of the day to the mighty smartphone. It’s no wonder that we are losing the nice forward curve of a healthy neck spine, and even the forward curve of the low back.
Think of a banana, representing your neck spine, its curve going forward toward the front of your neck and the ends of the banana are pointing to the back of your head and neck. That is how a healthy neck should look. If you grab the banana with both hands and forcefully straighten it, what happens to the tissue and flesh of the banana, especially its peel? Right. It stretches with some tearing, whether visible or not. Imagine the soft tissue surrounding your neck, the ligaments, and tendons which are attached to the spinal bones. When the spine goes straight, the soft tissue is stretched to dysfunctional tightness. Spinal nerve roots can also get stretched. And if the straightening of the neck is done suddenly in a car crash, the soft tissues can tear, often called whiplash or spinal strains and sprains.
If you have been in a car accident, and your x-rays show a loss of the forward curve (lordosis) in your neck, it probably didn’t happen totally from the car collision. While it is possible that when your head whips and slams forward and backward in a car wreck, the spinal curve can change, but your straight neck likely happened over years of looking downward and resting in bad posture, in addition to the possibility of genetic factors, inherited from parents.
In other words, car collisions, work injuries, and sports traumas can affect the curve of the neck spine and cause neck pain; however, your posture and lifestyle impact it more. A doctor of chiropractic can assess the problem, adjust your neck, teach you exercises, and do other therapies that help to heal and strengthen your neck. The goal is to reduce pain, heal properly, correct the curve as much as possible, and most importantly, keep it from getting worse. Chiropractic and physiotherapy are effective in slowing down the effects of spinal degeneration, which usually begins with the loss of normal spinal curves.
So, it’s highly recommended to do the following six things:
1. Keep the TV high on the wall so you’re not looking down to see it. Looking straight ahead or up just a little is preferred.
2. Sleep on your side or back, and when on your back, face up, use only a flat pillow that doesn’t push your head up and forward.
3. Prop or hold books and magazines up so you can look straight at them, instead of bending your head downward to read. You can make a book stand out of just about anything to prop up your book.
4. Limit the cell phone use time, and hold it up when you can to avoid neck pain.
5. Try lying face-up on your bed with your head hanging down a little over the edge of bed, the bed edge cradling your neck, thus putting the forward curve in your neck. Do not overdo this; start easily a short time (a minute or two minutes) to your tolerance. You don’t want to cause pain. Over time, you should be able to do this for ten to fifteen minutes.
6. The chiropractors at Cedar City Chiropractic will teach you exercises to strengthen neck muscles and encourage healthy lordosis in your neck.
Steven D. Spainhower, M.A., D.C., L.S.N.