Study finds new harm to cell phone use
Texting and emailing may cause neck and back pain
February 1, 2012, 8:05 pm·
Researchers are once again citing cell phone use as an obstacle to good health. But the new concern is not another type of cancer nor a fatal disease — it’s neck and back pain caused by texting and checking email on smart phones.
New research indicates that using smart phones can lead to injury. Temple epidemiology professor Judith Gold, who conducted a study on cell phone habits, told WebMD the way people position their bodies while texting is similar to how they slouch over their computers. According to Gold, both activities can result in neck and back pain.
In both scenarios, users strain muscles in their necks and backs to “accommodate for this position,” St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital doctor Alton Barron said on the CBS show This Morning.
Student Health Services doctor Evelyn Wiener does not think smart phone use is a significant threat to students’ health at Penn.
“I’m not aware of any significant increase in neck or back pain in our students,” she wrote in an email. “While we see students with repetitive use syndrome, I’m not aware of any cases specifically attributed to smart phone use.”
However, she added that acute injuries are the most common causes of problems and that they often lead to recurrent problems afterwards.
Neither Nursing senior Elizabeth McCuaig nor Engineering sophomore Keith Wallace believes cell phone use alone is dangerous. Rather, using cell phones in conjunction with other activities can lead to injuries, Wallace said.
“It could [lead to injury], like in a car or using Google Maps,” he said. “Those are special circumstances.”
Wiener agrees. “I suspect that the more significant risk of injury from a smart phone comes from tripping or walking into objects while you have your eyes glued on the phone,” Wiener wrote in an email.
But knowing the potential risks of using cell phones, especially smart phones, hasn’t convinced McCuaig or Wallace to change their cell phone habits.
McCuaig said constantly using smart phones could be a problem.
“But I don’t use it enough to have pain,” she said.
“I need my phone and the amount that I use it is contingent on what I need to do,” Wallace said.
“There are a lot of things that are bad for you” that people do anyway, he said.