07.11.2019 change 07.11.2019

‘Smartphone Neck’ identified as new cause of pain in children

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

A new pain syndrome called Smartphone Neck which causes headaches and hand numbness as well as neck and back ache has been identified by hospital specialists.

Doctors at the Pain Management Clinic of the John Paul II Upper Silesian Child Health Centre (GCZD) in Katowice, one of the largest paediatric hospitals in Poland, found that a growing number of children were reporting suffering from the symptoms.

Dr. Małgorzata Gola from the GCZD Pain Management Clinic said: "Based on the interview and examination, we diagnosed smartphone neck syndrome, although there is no such disease in the international classification of diseases yet.

"This syndrome is a consequence of the forced position of the body when using a computer, mobile phone or tablet.

“This overloads one group of muscles, e.g. shoulder girdle muscles, and weakens the other group, e.g. neck muscles.

“An interview conducted in this situation usually confirms that the child uses electronic devices very often and extensively. Our recommendations to limit these sessions are often poorly received, especially by children," she added.

The Pain Management Clinic at the John Paul II Upper Silesian Child Health Centre is one of the few centres in Poland dealing with pain treatment in the youngest patients. This year, it celebrates its 20th anniversary.

The outpatient clinic was launched in 1999, when the construction of the Upper Silesian Child Health Centre was completed and the hospital started admitting patients. Back then, it was the first such centre in the country.

Currently it offers pain treatment to children of all ages. In newborns and infants, these are usually pain syndromes resulting from perinatal injuries. Older children and adolescents report headaches and spine pains, most often due to overload or discopathic changes. The clinic also treats pain syndromes in the limbs, large joints and chronic abdominal pain. Patients with chronic postoperative or post-traumatic pain are also referred there.

Dr. Małgorzata Gola said: "I estimate that we effectively help half of our patients. We partially help another 20-30 percent.

“There is also a group of about 20 percent patients, who show no improvement or discontinue treatment. This is not only due to medical reasons, but also to various conditions, including lack of conviction about the method of therapy and chances of improvement.

“Remember that we are dealing not only with the child, but also the child`s guardians. The therapy requires regular visits to the clinic, which adults not always accept."

The GCZD Pain Management Clinic provides approx. 4,000 outpatient advices per year. The clinic staff also provide consultations at individual hospital departments.

Dr Gola said: "Over the 20 years of our activity, we have treated about 3,000 children. Some of our patients are adults today and they sometimes come to us with their children. They are aware that pain can be treated. They are alert to all manifestations of pain and ensure that their children do not suffer."

PAP - Science in Poland, Anna Gumułka

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