Have you heard the term “text neck?” Do you have it?
What is Text Neck?
“Text neck” is a term that has been coined to describe the posture formed by leaning forward for prolonged periods, for example when viewing a cellphone while reading and texting. This can cause stress injuries and pain. This posture often results in neck and shoulder pain, and headaches.
Although “text neck” is not an official diagnosis, but a term used to describe the phenomenon, there is an unsettling trend of poor posture due to the overuse of cellphones that we see way too often in our office.
How do you look at your phone?
Do you tend to hold your phone in one hand or two? Do you look at it while it is laying on a table? Do you lay down and hold it over your head?
How you hold your phone will have a lot to do with the type of pain you experience. It could be mostly on one side of your neck and one shoulder or more evenly distributed.
When you look down you are dropping your head forward and changing the natural curve of your neck. Over time this causes misalignment, sore muscles, and wear and tear on the structure of your neck. Ouch!
This is what happens when you look down too much:
- Your neck moves forward.
- Your shoulders round forward or lift up toward your ears.
- Your neck and shoulder muscles spasm (contract).
- Your chest muscles tighten and restrict your breathing.
Common Symptoms Associated with Text Neck
Text neck symptoms commonly include one or more of the following:
- A literal pain in the neck – pain may be felt in one specific spot as an intense or stabbing pain, or you may feel an overall achiness that can spread down into the bottom of your neck and shoulders.
- Upper back, and/or shoulder pain – like neck pain, it may be a specific spot or general soreness and tightness throughout the shoulder area.
- Forward head posture and rounded shoulders. This is the most obvious sign of “text neck.” The muscles in your neck, chest and upper back become rounded and your head protrudes forward due to prolonged forward head posture. This can make it difficult to maintain good posture with the ears directly over the shoulders.
- Reduced movement- When you have tightness and pain anywhere, your mobility will decrease.
- Headache. Tension and tightness in the neck and shoulders will typically cause a headache if left untreated. Your muscles at the base of your neck may even spasm and become painful. Excessive amounts of time looking at screens, regardless of posture, may also increase the risk for eyestrain and headache.
- Increased pain when neck flexion. Text neck symptoms tend to worsen when the neck is flexed forward into the position that originally caused the problem, such as while looking down and texting.
You may also experience balance issues and jaw pain. Yikes!
Treatment for Text Neck
The single best thing you can do for your neck and posture is to limit your cell phone use, be aware of your posture, keep your neck and head upright as much as possible, and change up your positions. We start to develop problems when we do the same things over and over with our bodies and create repetitive stress injuries.
The second thing to do is make a chiropractic appointment. Getting adjusted and aligned will make you feel better and remind your body where it is supposed to be. Once you are better aligned you can start doing stretches and exercises to strengthen your muscles and counteract cell phone use.
Being aware of your posture and the dangers of prolonged positions of your head and neck is the key to feeling better and avoiding headaches and long-term problems.
Talk to your kids about this today! Help them avoid a lifetime of bad posture, headaches, or worse.
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To find more about Dr. Ryan and Dr. Allyson more and their chiropractic practice and philosophy, click here. To make an appointment please call (517) 781-4884