NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) –  During the summer break, many kids enjoy using their cell phones and playing video games – maybe a little too much. Dr. Cheryl Vincent with Simsbury Chiropractic and Wellness Center stopped by our studio to warn parents about Nintendo Neck, a condition caused by overuse of electronics.

What exactly do you mean by Nintendo Neck?

  • Some call it text neck, but it simply refers to the neck pain caused by looking down at video game screens, cell phones and laptops for extended periods of time.
  • What’s worse, most people also slouch and hunch their shoulders while using electronics, putting a great deal of stress on the spine.
  • I see it in patients as young as elementary school.

So is it just strain on the muscle from bending the neck?

  • It’s actually the added weight of a person’s head.
  • On average, your head weighs about 10 to 12 pounds.
  • If you lean 15 degrees forward, it’s as if your head weighs 27 pounds.
  • So when you’re hunched over at a 60 degree angle, like most of us are many times throughout the day, you’re putting a 60 pound strain on your neck.
  • This weight puts extra pressure on discs in the neck and spine as well.

But pain is only in the neck?

  • No patients also complain of shoulder pain, headaches, elbow, wrist, and hand pain, and even thumb pain from excessive texting.
  • Carpal tunnel is a problem for anyone whose work conditions or electronic use calls for repetitive, forceful or awkward hand movements, for example, when typing or using only the thumbs for video controllers.

Do you have any tips to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

  • Keep the wrist as straight as possible when using devices.
  • Minimize repetitive movements of one’s fingers and thumb when using handheld electronic devices, especially for single-hand use.
  • Take regular rest periods, so as to avoid continuous intensive use.
  • Allow recovery time to prevent prolonged stress to the muscles.

What can parents and kids do to prevent Nintendo Neck?

  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Stretch your neck and shoulders in all directions at least every hour if you are working on a computer all day.
  • Practice keeping your neck back and keeping your ears over your shoulders.
  • Stand up against the wall and make snow angel wing movements to release your neck and upper back.

How do you treat Nintendo Neck?

  • A variety of treatments are used.
  • As a chiropractic office we use spinal manipulation.
  • It is the best way to affect the nervous system that controls the whole show
  • We also use joint manipulation for shoulders, elbows, wrists, and hands.
  • Cold laser therapy speeds up the healing process by increasing circulation, decreasing pain and swelling.
  • We have massage therapists that work alongside us to provide soft tissue therapy for overused muscles.

What is your definition of “overuse” of electronic devices?

  • Kids shouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes at a time on gaming or computers without taking a break to move and stretch.
  • Two hours total per day seems to be more than enough.
  • It is recommended that children get 1-2 hours of physical activity per day.
  • Those early years of movement are extremely important for laying the foundation of core strength of the postural muscles that keep us straight throughout our life.
  • Those muscles come on in layers and it’s really important to get them and keep them.

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