Posture and time spent using a smartphone are not correlated with neck pain and disability in young adults: a cross-sectional study

Review written by Steve Kamper info

Key Points

  1. This study assessed the cross-sectional association between neck pain and smartphone use in university medical students.
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Popular media is enamoured with the idea that (over)use of smartphones is responsible for a range of health problems. Many healthcare practitioners in the business of treating people with musculoskeletal pain have bought into this, and the belief that smartphone use causes neck pain is commonly held. Use of smartphones has provided fuel for the idea that posture is an important contributor to spinal pain generally, and head-forward position important for neck pain specifically (1). These concerns have spawned an industry selling treatments and devices to correct posture. Attention to the adverse effects of ‘poor’ posture on musculoskeletal pain appears to be based more on theoretical biomechanical grounds (2) rather than compelling empirical evidence.

Adolescents and young adults are perceived at particular risk of excessive smartphone use and potential consequences, including neck pain. This study aimed to investigate the link between smartphone use and neck pain.

The belief that smartphone use causes neck pain is commonly held.
There is little reason for clinicians or patients to be concerned about smartphone use with respect to neck pain.


This study was a cross-sectional survey of 238 students that used smartphones enrolled in the school of medicine at a university in Italy. Researchers measured neck pain (VAS) and disability (Neck Disability Index), age, BMI, smoking and physical activity. They

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