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June 21, 2018 Thursday 03:51:09 PM IST

What a Pain: The iPad Neck Plagues Women More

Science Innovations

Las Vegas: A University of Nevada in Las Vegas study published this month in The Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that gender and posture are among the most significant risk factors behind developing 'iPad neck.'

If you're a young adult or a woman, your iPad can be a literal pain in the neck, says the study.

Findings, released last week in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, show:

"iPad neck," sometimes called "tablet neck," is usually associated with sitting without back support, such as on a bench or on the ground, or slumping over the tablet while it rests in the user's lap. Other postures significantly associated with pain included using tablets while lying on the side or back.


The condition is more prevalent among young adults than older adults.

Women were 2.059 times more likely to experience musculoskeletal symptoms during iPad use than men. Those with a history of neck and shoulder pain reported experiencing more neck and shoulder symptoms during tablet computer use.

The university's physical therapy professor Szu-Ping Lee, lead author of the study, said the results concern him, especially given the growing popularity of tablet computers, e-book readers, and other connected devices for personal, school, and business purposes.

"Such high prevalence of neck and shoulder symptoms, especially among the younger populations, presents a substantial burden to society," he said.


"We were able to quantify exactly how frequent those problems are and what common factors contribute to them," Lee said. The top risk factor was surprising. "Theoretically, the more hours you spend bent over an iPad, the more neck and shoulder pain you experience -- but what we found is that time is not the most important risk factor. Rather, it's gender and specific postures."

The most frequently reported symptoms were stiffness, soreness, or aching pain in the neck, upper back/shoulder, arms/hands, or head. Most (55 percent) reported moderate discomfort, but 10 percent said their symptoms were severe and 15 percent said it affected their sleep.

Researchers found that the group of university students, staff, and alumni they studied reported a higher prevalence of neck and shoulder pain than the general population -- likely attributed to posture and sedentary behavior commonly observed among people in a university setting. Researchers noted that students especially are less likely to have a dedicated work space while on the go so might sit in uncomfortable postures such as slouched cross-legged on the floor when studying on their tablet computers.

Still, only 46 percent of respondents said they'd stop using the device when experiencing discomfort.


Regarding gender differences, 70 percent of female respondents reported experiencing symptoms compared to just under 30 percent of men. Interestingly, women were also more likely (77 percent) to use their tablets while sitting on the floor than men (23 percent).

The pain disparity among genders might be explained by size and movement differences. According to the researchers, women's tendency to have lower muscle strength and smaller stature (for example: shorter arms and narrow shoulders) might lead them to assume extreme neck and shoulder postures while typing.

(Indebted to various sources)



'Gadget caused physical ailments' are increasing in an alarming speed. Are we paying enough attention?