What is Text Neck?
Many of us are probably guilty of spending too much time on our phones, but did you know that recurrent viewing could lead to neck pain? When we look down for long periods, this prolonged posture puts strain on the neck or cervical spine. Over time this strain causes a repetitive stress injury or overuse syndrome called "text neck" to develop.
The average head weighs about 10 to 12 pounds. For every few degrees, the head tilts forward, the amount of weight on the neck increases. For example, this means bending your head forward an extra 15 degrees can increase the load on the cervical spine to 27 pounds. When you increase your head tilt to a 60-degree angle, you can place as much as 60 pounds of stress on your neck. This stress is especially significant when you consider that smartphone users spend about two to four hours a day looking down at their phones. This means the average person spends 700 to 1,400 hours a year straining their neck. Teens and children tend to spend even more time on their phones, so they could be at an increased risk of developing text neck.
Symptoms of Text Neck
The main symptoms of text neck include:
Stiff neck – Stiffness, soreness, and difficulty moving the neck can occur after looking down for long periods of time.
Pain – Text neck causes strain on the muscles and ligaments of the cervical spine leading to pain that can range from a dull ache to a sharp stabbing sensation.
Radiating pain - Pain can radiate from the neck into the upper back, shoulders, and arms.
Muscular weakness - Muscles of the neck and upper back can become weak due to the chronic postural imbalance created by text neck. Muscles that are at most risk for weakness include the trapezius, rhomboids, scalene muscles, and shoulder muscles.
Headache - Tight neck muscles commonly cause tension type headaches.
If left untreated, text neck can lead to more serious issues such as:
Early onset arthritis
Reduced cervical curve
Reduced lung capacity
How to Fix Text Neck?
Prevention is the best way to treat text neck. Be mindful of your posture and avoid looking down at your phone for long periods. Taking a break from your phone every 20 minutes or so is recommended. Aim to sit up straight with your head in a neutral position (ears over your shoulders) and your feet flat on the ground. Proper posture is beneficial for your spine's health, but it is also helpful for your overall wellness and mood.
Neck pain is one of the most common conditions the doctors at Comprehensive Chiropractic help patients manage. Here are some of the following treatment options we offer that are proven to treat symptoms of text neck:
Rehabilitation exercises - Exercises and stretches are very effective for treating text neck. Addressing muscle imbalances can help strengthen weakened muscles and prevent further injury.
Soft tissue therapy – Soft tissue therapy can help soothe the pain and tension caused by muscle spasms.
Adjustments - Adjustments to the cervical spine and upper back help to increase range of motion and restore a more naturally aligned posture.
Deep tissue laser therapy – Laser therapy helps the body rapidly heal muscle strains, reduce inflammation, and decrease pain.
Interested in more pain management strategies? Check out these other helpful blog articles:
Neupane S, Ifthikar Ali UT, Mathew A. Text-Neck Syndrome-Systemic review. Imperial Journal of Interdisciplinary Research. 2017;3(7):141-148. Accessed 18 July 2019
Kutty NAM. Text neck: a global epidemic of the modern era. MOJ Yoga Physical Ther. 2019;4(1):14-16. DOI: 10.15406/mojypt.2019.04.00060
Comprehensive Chiropractic & Sports Performance is your Complete Wellness Center. St. Louis turns to us for chronic pain relief, injury rehabilitation, and treatment for many other conditions. We believe that our health is our greatest asset. Any effort we make towards taking care of ourselves is valuable and necessary.