One in five Koreans had treatment for back pains last year, and some 40 percent were in their 20s and 30s. The main reason seems to be that they spend much of their time hunched over their smartphones and other devices.According to the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service on Tuesday, 11.31 million people had medical treatment for back pains last year, accounting for a whopping 22 percent of Korea's population.The proportion has jumped 2.7 percentage points since 2011. Some 471,000 patients were in their 20s and 30s, surpassing 40 percent for the first time in 2020 and bringing down the average age from 41.8 in 2012 to 36.9 last year.The number of people suffering from joint problems stood at 7.36 million last year, accounting for 14.3 percent of the population, up 2.1 percentage points from 2011.
Doctors attribute the increase in these ailments to people being cooped up at home in lockdown and glued to their smart devices or computers.Kim Sung-bum at Kyunghee University Medical Center said, "Muscles and ligaments supporting the neck and back end up weakening due to incorrect postures, causing pain in the spine area. Patients should avoid spending a long time looking at smart devices in the same posture and stretch their neck and back every 30 to 40 minutes."