The relationship between smartphone addiction and musculoskeletal pain prevalence among young population: a cross-sectional study

Korean J Pain. 2021 Jan 1;34(1):72-81. doi: 10.3344/kjp.2021.34.1.72.


Background: In the literature, there have been debates as to whether smartphone use has negative effects on physical and mental health. The present study investigated the extent to which smartphone addiction impacts on musculoskeletal pain prevalence among university students.

Methods: The questionnaire consisted of three sections: demographic information, the Smartphone Addiction Scale (SAS), and the modified Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire.

Results: A total of 249 participants were included in this cross-sectional study. The body parts that were reported with highest prevalence of musculoskeletal pain were the upper back (70.3%), neck (65.9%), and wrists/hands (68.7%). The SAS scores were correlated with duration of smartphone use on a typical day (P = 0.001), duration of owning a smartphone (P = 0.027), and musculoskeletal pain prevalence in the neck (P = 0.001), wrists/hands (P = 0.001), shoulders (P = 0.025), and upper back (P = 0.023). The SAS score was significantly associated with prevalence of musculoskeletal pain in the neck (odd ratio [OR], 1.08; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.98-1.10; P = 0.002), wrists/hands (OR, 1.07; 95% CI, 0.97-1.09; P = 0.001), and upper back (OR, 1.10; 95% CI, 0.98-1.11; P = 0.033).

Conclusions: The findings indicated that the upper back, neck, and wrists/hands have a higher prevalence of musculoskeletal pain among smartphone users, particularly those with a smartphone addiction. Smartphone addiction scores were correlated with duration of smartphone use on a typical day, duration of owning smartphone, and musculoskeletal pain prevalence in the neck, wrists/hands, shoulders, and upper back.

Keywords: Addictive; Behavior; Chronic Pain; Cross-Sectional Studies; Mental Health; Musculoskeletal Pain; Prevalence; Smartphone; Surveys and Questionnaires.