Technology is great. Because of it we have tremendous access to almost endless information, can communicate with people in real-time all over the globe, and track everything from our sleep to our heart rate to how many steps we walk in a day.
And all this power fits neatly in our pocket – our smartphone.
But all this cool tech comes with a price, especially when it is overused – and it is. As a result, our bodies have paid the price. Along with increased headaches, eye strain, and dry eye, frequent smartphone use, or overuse, has begun to affect our posture and spine.
And it is aptly named “text neck.”
What is “text neck”?
Text neck is not a medical term but has been coined to describe a specific type of repetitive stress injury caused by a person’s posture as they engage in excessive use of mobile devices, such as texting. Now the medical community has embraced the term and it is used widely and many doctors feel that it is becoming a public health issue.
When people use their mobile devices, such as a smartphone, they tend to hunch over the device, hold it at chest level and their head is thrust forward and down as they view the screen. This causes stress to the cervical spine by increasing the mechanical load on its ligaments and joints as well as the muscles in the back of the neck.
Basically, the head is hanging somewhat forward without the foundational support of the cervical spine, and as gravity does its thing, the muscles, ligaments, and joints struggle to stabilize the head.
The result is neck pain and stiffness.
How common is text neck?
There have been many studies on the prevalence of text neck, given that around 85% of the world’s population has a smartphone. It stands to reason that the prevalence is quite high even though not everyone is spending countless hours on their devices. Overuse is common though, and researchers have taken into account the alarmingly high rate of smartphone addiction that leads to overuse. The studies reflect this, showing that an estimated 62% to 75% of mobile device users have or have had text neck at some point.
What are the symptoms of text neck?
The most common symptoms include:
- Neck and shoulder pain that is sharp or nagging
- Headaches that can occur intermittently or can be constant
- Tightness or stiffness in the neck and shoulders
- Numbness and tingling in the arms, hands, and fingers caused by pinched nerves
- Decreased range of motion in the neck, shoulders, and upper limbs
- Eye pain
Can text neck cause chronic pain?
Text neck can cause chronic pain in the neck and shoulders as well as the arms and hands. It can also cause chronic headaches and even trigger migraines.
Does text neck go away on its own?
A case that is mild may go away on its own as long as the person rights their posture so that the stress on the cervical spine is relieved. The majority of the time though, it will not go away and the person struggles with symptoms until they get treatment. And often they don’t even realize why they have the symptoms, not connecting them to the overuse of their mobile device.
Is text neck preventable?
There are some things you can do to prevent text neck, but it starts, at least in part, with putting down your smartphone. Tips for preventing text neck include:
- Take breaks. Stop and put down your device regularly instead of spending countless hours hunched over it. You should at least take a 15-minute break every hour.
- Stretch. Arch your neck and back to stretch the muscles.
- Raise your phone to eye level so that your head stays straight.
- Use good posture by standing up straight when you are sitting and standing.
- Engage in exercise that incorporates your entire body and gets you moving.
One simple neck stretch that you can do is hold your head straight with your chin and nose pointing forward. Pull your chin back without tilting your head down – as if you are making a double chin. Hold for a count of ten and release. Repeat several times to release the tension in your neck.
Is it possible to fix text neck?
The best way to fix text neck is to prevent it. If your condition is advanced and you are having frequent headaches and pain and stiffness in your neck and shoulders, you may need a little help.
Chiropractic care is a non-invasive, drug-free way to treat text neck and relieve the pain that is associated with it. At Sandstone Chiropractic our doctors can help you treat the pain and get your mobility back. Call today or request an appointment online. You don’t have to live with text neck. We can help.