Technology advances have improved the quality of life. However, many people have become addicted to smartphones (so-called smartphone zombies) and use them much more than a reasonable amount of time. Also, people are dealing with a lot of work and studies by using computers, which causes neck pain. From day to day, our necks are suffering. Have you ever seen the posture of your body when you use your smartphone or computer? You might see people bent down or force their necks out too much. This posture gives a big strain on the neck which leads to turtleneck syndrome. As a result, the body posture with turtleneck will lower self-esteem and efficiency. We will find out this scary modern illness, turtleneck syndrome, which is a common disease among people in the digital generation.
After Covid-19, the number of patients with turtleneck syndrome has increased significantly. As non-face-to-face activities became more widespread, the usage of smartphones and PCs have increased dramatically. In particular, the increasing time spent with OTT services (Over-the-top media service) has led to an increase in time spent in digital. An OTT media service is a streaming media service offered directly to viewers via the internet such as movie contents and education programs. A representative example of OTT service is Netflix and Watcha. Compared to 2019, usage hours in OTT service have increased by 30% in the first half of last year. Additionally, students have to take classes online due to Covid-19 and this has increased the number of teenage sufferers. According to the Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service, more than 2 million people visit hospitals due to turtleneck a year, and among them, 46.5 percent are teenage patients, this figure has increased more than 12 percent since last year.
What is Turtleneck Syndrome?
Turtleneck syndrome is caused by poor posture that makes muscles long and weakened, eventually leading to neck and shoulder pain. Turtleneck syndrome refers to the state that cervical vertebrae (neck bone) should maintain a normal curve as C-shape, which plays a role in dispersing impact going to the neck. However, maintaining poor posture for a long time, this normal curvature, C-shape becomes a square shape that straightens the cervical vertebral. We call this straight neck syndrome If your neck is protruding configuration, it’s called a turtleneck syndrome. The neck will get stiff and pain is going to pass to the shoulder and back as well as the neck because the head’s load and external shock will impact the neck right away. It was named turtleneck syndrome because the posture of patients is similar to turtles’ when they crane their necks.
Causes of the Turtleneck Syndrome
Various reasons cause the turtleneck syndrome, but the biggest reason is looking down at a computer for a long time. When you sit straight up for hours, you may end up with both back and neck pain because you look down at the monitor.
Symptoms of turtleneck syndrome and diagnosis of turtleneck
The most common symptom is stiff necks with pain. Also, other symptoms are muscle pain in the shoulders and headaches which can lead to frequent tiredness. As a result, it will lower one’s learning performance and set one’s nerves on edge. The height of both arms may become different and it may also make your arms numb. When you draw a virtual line from the middle of your ear down to the center of your shoulder, it should be in the same line. If one shoulder is 2.5cm more forward than the other shoulder, it is turtleneck syndrome. If one shoulder is 5cm more forward than the other shoulder, you are in a severe condition. For the diagnosis of turtle neck syndrome, you can self-diagnosis by referring to this following checklist. First, check stiffness around your shoulder and neck. Second, if you look at the side of your body in the mirror, check if your head is more forward than your body. Third, check if you have a hunched posture. Fourth, see if you get tired easily and suffer from a headache. Fifth, check if you are feeling tired even after getting enough sleep. If any of these five points applied to you, you may be suffering from turtleneck disease.
Treatment of turtleneck syndrome
If the symptoms are severe, you should consult with an expert and use special equipment to exercise for correcting posture. Typically, three months are needed to correct one’s posture, but the most important thing is to maintain good posture in everyday life. Patients with severe pain will be recommended to get surgery, such as fusing abnormal vertebrae, lengthening neck muscles, and cutting nerves or muscles. Medications can be also helpful. Some medications include muscle relaxants, medications used to treat the tremors of Parkinson’s disease, and pain medications.
Prevention of turtleneck syndrome
It is important to keep your chin down and lift your head up to make your head aligned with the neck. Avoid prolonged static postures, you should maintain enough range of motion of the neck. Also, doctors discourage sleeping on one’s stomach, and it is good to use low pillows. Especially, it is important to exercise that will strengthen your neck.
Although the experts say that developments in medicine can cure turtleneck syndrome, it can’t be completely cured, because it’s a chronic disease. Behavioral Futurist William Higham, an expert in the field of ergonomics, has made a life-sized doll that shows what office workers might look like in 20 years. The model, named Emma, shocked people because of its appearance. Emma has a permanently hunched posture sitting for hours every day over her desk, dried red eyes from prolonged exposure to a computer screen, sallow skin, and turtleneck. This doll is warning us of the problem of a poor workplace besides our poor posture. Let’s all follow the prevention method and try not to suffer from a chronic disease like turtleneck syndrome.
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