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The surprising side effects from using technology
Repetitive motion and poor posture can lead to aches and pains.
Image: © Johnny Greig/Getty Images
You've mastered the art of texting, emailing, and web surfing on your smartphone and computer. But along with that digital prowess, you've picked up an unexpected side effect.
"We get a number of patients who develop injuries from these activities," says Dr. Tamara Rozental, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hand, wrist, and elbow disorders at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Is your pillow hurting your health?
Pillows can help or hurt, depending on their firmness and your sleep position.
Image: © vitranc/Getty Images
You probably know someone who won't leave home without a special pillow, claiming that a particular bag of fluff or feathers is the key to a good night's sleep. And that person may be on to something. "Anything that will make you more comfortable will improve the likelihood of getting a good night's sleep," says Dr. Lawrence Epstein, a sleep expert at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.
But the benefits of pillows don't go much further than comfort and positioning. Sometimes pillows even hurt your health.
Is your workout giving you a stiff neck?
Try these quick fixes to stay active and avoid neck pain.
Physical activity is important to feeling great and staying healthy. But the wrong execution of a particular move, such as a golf swing or swimming stroke, may wind up causing neck pain. "Often people don't realize their activity is to blame," says Emily Roy, a physical therapist with the Sports Medicine Center at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
Neck pain after working out: What goes wrong
Neck pain may result from overuse of muscles in the neck and shoulder (many shoulder muscles also attach to the neck), strain on the joints in the neck, or a pinched nerve in the neck or shoulder area.
Do habits cause your neck pain?
Sit up straight, keep electronic screens at eye level, and try some strengthening exercises to reduce pain and feel better.
Looking down at a computer screen for prolonged periods may lead to neck pain.
If your day involves using a smartphone or laptop, reading a book or magazine, or curling up on a couch to watch TV, your day may also include some nagging neck pain. That's because you may be bending your body in an unhealthy position for a prolonged period of time. "It's an overuse injury. Your body was designed to move, but you're forcing your neck and shoulders into one static position for too long," says Dr. Clare Safran-Norton, a physical therapist and clinical supervisor of rehabilitation services at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Turn away from neck pain
Poor lifestyle habits can trigger chronic neck pain that impedes daily activities and raises your risk of serious health issues.
Muscle strains caused by poor posture and sleeping positions often trigger neck pain.
Neck pain is a nagging ailment that affects everyone at some time. In fact, approximately 80% of people experience neck pain during their lifetime, and 20% to 50% deal with it annually, according to Dr. Frank Pedlow, an orthopedic spine surgeon at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
Acupuncture and Alexander Technique help relieve chronic neck pain
Troubled by long-term neck pain? Acupuncture and the Alexander Technique may offer relief, says a study in the Nov. 3, 2015, issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
British researchers recruited 517 patients who suffered from neck pain for an average of six years. They were randomly placed in three groups: one got up to 20 half-hour Alexander Technique lessons, the second had up to a dozen 50-minute sessions of acupuncture, and the third group received standard treatments, such as medications and physical therapy.
The 7 faces of neck pain
If you're bothered by neck pain, you have plenty of company. Doctors estimate that seven out of 10 people will be troubled by such pain at some point in their lives. But if you were to ask each of these people to describe their neck pain, you would probably get seven different stories.
By clearly describing your specific neck symptom, or combination of symptoms, you can help your doctor determine what's wrong and how to help.
6 ways to ease neck pain
Stress, poor sleep, and physical ailments over time can lead to a pain in the neck
Image: Wavebreakmedia | Getty Images
Everyday life isn't kind to the neck. You may be all too familiar with that crick you get when you cradle the phone between your shoulder and ear, or the strain you feel after working at your computer.
Neck pain rarely starts overnight. It usually evolves over time. And it may be spurred by arthritis or degenerative disc disease, and accentuated by poor posture, declining muscle strength, stress, and even a lack of sleep, said Dr. Zacharia Isaac, medical director of the Comprehensive Spine Care Center at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital and director of interventional physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.
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