By Ufaq Fatima
Srinagar: Neck and back problems, traditionally the bane of handicraft artisans in Kashmir, have now begun plaguing people who make too much use of mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. Medical experts say that hundreds of such cases land in hospital on daily basis.
Excessive use of gadgets is taking a toll on the health of Kashmiris, particularly the youth. Taking to Kashmir Reader, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Bones and Joint Hospital Srinagar, Dr Yahiya said that the hospital has been treating a “huge number” of patients with neck and back problems caused by excessive use of laptops and mobile phones.
“Every month we receive 150 such cases in young persons and the persistence of such problems causes Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS), a condition in which numbness and tingling in fingers, pain in neck, shoulder and arms occurs due to compression of nerves and blood vessels between the base of neck and armpit,” Dr Yahiya said.
The problem is not confined to Kashmir but has become an epidemic across the world, termed as ‘Text Neck’ in western countries. Text Neck occurs because of strain on neck and can cause permanent damage to the cervical spine.
Mubashir Shabir, 28, used to spend four to five hours on his smartphone daily, till one day his neck started to ache. After persistent pain of four months, he visited the Bone and Joint Hospital Srinagar.
“At first I took the pain lightly and would apply ointment, but when it became unbearable I visited the doctor. To my surprise, the doctor said that excessive use of phone and wrong posture was the cause of my pain,” Shabir said.
Doctors say that youth spend too much time on social media on their phones and computers, which has not only made them less social in reality but also ill physically.
“I am very much dependent on my phone. It is the first thing I check in the morning, to look for notifications on WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook. I constantly feel strain in my neck, back, and even thumb, but I keep ignoring it as being on the phone has become part of my habit and routine,” said Sadaf Aijaz, a student.
“I got my first phone when I was 18. Within two years I had to visit a doctor because of severe neck pain. The doctor advised me to minimise the use of the mobile phone, along with some exercise and supplements,” said Hadiya Yaseen, 23, an MBA student.
She further said that now that she is a university student, she needs her mobile phone and computer for her work. “With time, the use of gadgets in my life has not reduced but increased,” she rued.
Be it buses, restaurant, parks or even roads, people are often busy on their smart phones, bumping into each other while walking and texting simultaneously.
Dr Manzoor Ahmad Halwai, Head of Department Orthopaedics at Bone and Joint hospital Srinagar, said that the young generation has become addicted to mobile phones and laptops, an addiction made worse by the wrong posture adopted while using them.
“Earlier, people who used to work for long hours in our traditional crafts like ari, tilli work and shawlbafi, and bank employees who sat all day on chairs, were the commonest complainers of neck and back problems. But now, with each passing day, I see a rise in such complaints among the youth. Even parents come to me complaining about their children that they make excessive use of gadgets,” Dr Halwai said.
He further said that wrong posture can also cause pain in arms, and a more severe problem could be headaches and nausea.
“The cure is less use of gadgets, maintenance of proper body posture while using mobile and laptops, along with regular neck exercises,” he said.