Although the impact of smartphones seems trivial, it is not something that should be taken lightly since it can result in pain, discomfort and lost productivity. Physical therapists not only help with treatment, but also with prevention of smartphone induced neck and back pain. Your therapist can offer a variety of treatments to help patients with 'smartphone induced' symptoms, allowing them to experience pain relief and regain normal function. Medical treatment helps to reduce pain and inflammation, but physical therapy plays a vital role in the restoration of joint mobility and muscle strength.
Physical therapy treatments include:
- Splinting – Offers rest to the joints in the hands and restricts active movement, which facilitates healing.
- Hot/cold packs – Increase blood flow and reduce inflammation as needed.
- Muscle stretching - Muscles in the neck and hands can become tight, which results in movement restriction. Stretching exercises can help reduce pain and inflammation while increasing range of motion.
- Resistive exercises - An increase in muscle strength helps reduce pain and restore the ability to complete normal, daily activities.
- Manual therapy – Soft tissue massage (to target deep muscles in the neck and shoulder region) and joint mobilizations are specialized treatments by physical therapists. These treatments have a significant impact in pain relief and range of motion.
The physical therapist may also determine that posture is an issue that needs to be addressed. For example, if you spend several hours cradling the phone between your head and neck, your therapist will teach you important strategies like switching sides, stretching and the use of headsets. Simple things can save you a pain in the neck. For example, setting down the phone every 20 minutes and standing up from your desk, stretching the muscles every 30 minutes and taking a break to allow your eyes to relax are easy and powerful strategies to protect your body from the impact of smartphones.