RESEARCH SURVEY ON LAPTOP AND SMART GADGETS AND ITS EFFECT ON THE CERVICAL SPINE
Do the use of laptops and mobile computing cause neck and shoulder pain? While it may be true that pervasive use of computers and smartphones could lead to cervical spine pain, little research has been done to show conclusive evidence.
Lifesystems Chiropractic and The Chiropractic Association (Singapore) has launch a inaugural research project to find out if there is an increase in the number of people with neck pain from poor cervical posture when reading or working on a laptop or smart device. A recent study by Microsoft and the US Department of Environmental Health found that tablet users have a higher potential for “neck and shoulder discomfort” compared to desktop users. There is also a medical term, “ipad Shoulder”, to describe injuries from these devices. Public Health researchers from Harvard also concluded that tablet users experience greater head and neck flexion angles compared to using a traditional computer. The study also found that the worst way to use your tablet is on your lap.
Together with The Chiropractic Association (Singapore), we graciously ask for your cooperation in our inaugural research project. All you need to do is to download the file here to complete 9 multiple choice questions and email it back to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also just read the questions listed below and just email me the responses in 2 sentences.
Part I: 1c, 2b, 3a, 4b
Part III: 1d, 2a, 33, 4c, 5a
Criteria for the survey:
1) If you are a patient seen from January 2012 for patients within age group of 6-65 years of age
2) If your chief complaint is neck pain not related to a physical trauma or accident
3) If your complaint is a new episode that started in 2012 (this includes those who have neck pain before 2012 but have a recent episode this year or a new area of the neck).
4) This survey ends 30th September 2012.
Part I: Patient’s Anthropometry Data (Patient to Complete)
1) Age of patient?
a. [06 – 12]
b. [13 – 19]
c. [20 – 35]
d. [36 – 50]
e. [51 – 65]
2) What mode of computing is the patient typically using?
a. [Small Mobile Gadgets e.g. Smart Mobile Phones]
b. [Medium Mobile Gadgets e.g. Computer Laptop, Tablet]
c. [Large Hardware e.g. Desktop Computer]
3) Hours spent on the device?
a. [less than 2 hrs/day]
b. [3-6 hrs/day]
c. [7-12 hrs/day]
4) Typical setting of use for laptop or SMART devices (> 1hour usage)?
a. [desk ]
b. [bed / sofa]
c. [during commute (car, bus, taxi) (any length of time)]
d. [on unsupported posture (such as standing, seated on a bench, stool)(any length of time)]
Part III: Changes made by patients to correct the cause (Patient to Complete)
1) Work Posture Habit
a. [Adopts neutral posture and sits against the back rest of the chair]
b. [Avoids prolong rotatory viewing]
c. [Improve horizontal viewing angle (no forward neck flexion)]
d. [Changes to position of input devices]
e. [None of the above]
2) Ergonomics adjustments made to office furniture
a. [Change of furniture to a chair with posture cervical support]
b. [Changes made to table and seat height ]
c. [Use of Keyboard drawer]
d. [Addition of paper holder]
e. [Addition of laptop holder]
3) Participated in re-educating their spinal muscles
a. [Rehab supervised exercises]
b. [Home exercises]
c. [swimming or water aerobics]
d. [Jogging or cycling]
e. [None of the above]
4) Work health activity by Health Promotion Board
a. [onsite Exercise Programs ]
b. [onsite Healthcare talks on posture related conditions]
c. [onsite office massage and other health services]
5) Changes in life-style habits
a. [Takes regular breaks (after spending 30-45 mins) on the computer or smart devices]
b. [Starts spinal related exercises (Pilates, yoga, weight training and/or swimming)]
c. [Avoids working on the sofa, bed]
d. [Avoids prolong neck flexion(>30 mins) with a laptop or smart device]
Neck Pain Survey Research Results 2013
The Chiropractic Association (Singapore) [TCA(S)] confirms a recent study by Microsoft, Harvard
researchers and the US Department of Health that long usage of smart devices have a higher potential for
neck and shoulder pain.
Encouraged by the Complementary and Alternative Department of the Ministry of Health, Singapore,
TCA(S) embarked on a year-long research survey in 2012. We investigated the long term effects of
smartphones, tablets and laptops on posture related to the head and neck with possible solutions.
132 patients from 14 member clinics, with complains of head, neck and shoulder pain participated in the
The majority of the participants were 20-50 years of age. About half were between 20-35 years,
indicating that a younger population may already be experiencing early signs and symptoms of
cervical diseases caused by poor biomechanics.
Almost all indicated that they compute from a desktop and another smart device. The average time spent
on the desktop and smart devices were equal. With smart devices, about 50% surveyed, spent 3-6 hours a
day on their smart devices while the rest, spent 7-12 hours a day. In addition, those using smart devices
for extended periods, indicated that they resorted to adopting poor postures to view their devices. These
poor posture included prolonged neck flexion, telescoping their necks and/or propping pillows under their
Alarmingly, 76% mentioned that they were unaware of proper ergonomics and postural exercises to help
themselves. Only 4% had received information on proper posture through healthcare talks and other media.
Just half of the participants would attempt to adjust the height of their table and seat, however, most
complained that their office furniture were not appropriate for their body frame.
For existing neck pain sufferers, the TCA(S) survey had similar findings with randomized studies from
The British Medical Journal (2004) and The SPINE Journal (2011), that patients responded better when
cervical spinal alignment is accompanied with spinal rehabilitation exercises and ergonomic education
compared to manual treatment alone. Aside from ergonomic furniture, equal emphasis should be placed on
spinal exercises for correction and preventive measure.
The Chiropractic Association (Singapore) hopes to expand the research survey to include the general
population. In the next phase, TCA(S) also to focus on the younger population who are heavily utilizing
smart devices on a daily basis because they are likely to be highest at risk.