Increasing use of smartphones is being blamed for a rise in the number of people in their 20 and 30s who suffer from a slipped disc in the neck.
According to figures by the National Health Insurance Corporation, the number of patients who were treated for a slipped disc in the neck rose from 570,000 in 2007 to 780,000 in 2011, or an average of 8.1 percent a year.
There was a 12.3-percent hike in 2010, when smartphones started to become a big presence in Korea. The number of patients grew most steeply among those in their 20s, followed by those in their 80s who can be expected to see degenerative diseases of the spine.
Doctors say excessive use of smartphones in a hunched-over posture is the main culprit.
According to a survey by the Korea Communications Commission, adolescents and those in their 20s used smartphones for an average of four hours a day as of 2012.