Text neck is a new term coined to describe repeated stress injury and pain in the neck resulting from excessive watching or texting on handheld devices over a sustained period of time. Text neck can lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine, degeneration and even necessitate surgery. In addition to neck injuries, the typical position assumed while texting can lead to shoulder pain, upper back pain, headaches, and increased thoracic kyphosis. Two-thirds of the world’s population have mobile phones and texting has become the dominant form of communication.
In this video from Fox News, experts like Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s medical correspondent, explains how text neck causes all kinds of health issues. The video highlights text neck as a growing lifestyle and health concern as mobile usage continues to grow worldwide.
The human head weighs about a dozen pounds. But as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds. Sixty pounds is like carrying a 6-year-old around on your neck for hours every day. This can be especially problematic for children. Kids under 8 look at mobile devices for an average of 48 minutes per day and the average American adolescent may spend up to 9 hours per day texting or hovering over their phones. Through this posture, their developing spine may, in fact, be being trained into misalignment.
The most common symptoms of text neck are:
- Stiff neck: soreness and difficulty in moving the neck is usually present when trying to move the neck after long usages
- Pain: can be localized to one spot or may be diffused over an area, the usually lower part of the neck. Can be described as dull aching or can also be sharp or stabbing in extreme cases
- Radiating pain: there can often be radiation of pain into the shoulders and arms.
- Muscular weakness: shoulders muscles namely, trapezius, rhomboids and shoulder external rotators are often weak
- Headache: sub-occipital muscle tightness can lead to tension type headaches.
If not treated and managed correctly, text neck can lead further issues such as:
- Pinch nerves
- Herniated discs
- Anxiety and Depression
- High Blood Pressure
- Problems with your heart rate
- Flattening of thoracic kyphosis
- Early onset arthritis
- Spinal degeneration
- Disc compression
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of lung capacity
It’s important to be aware of and improve postural habits while using smartphones and other similar devices. Raise your phone so that your head tilts less, take frequent breaks, and stand up straight. Furthermore, there are stretches and exercises that can increase your neck’s strength and flexibility. However, if you’re already in pain you should visit a professional caregiver.
At Divine Spine Yorba Linda, we are able to treat patients of all ages, children, and adults, with text neck symptoms. By taking x-rays both before and after, we’re able to record amazing text neck recoveries like this one:
This x-ray shows how our treatment was able to straighten out a reversed cervical curve, ie. text neck. This was achieved with our computerized spine therapy program. Dr. Sawhney who examined this patient was determined to get to the root cause of the problem. He prescribed a treatment plan without any twisting or popping of the spine or surgery. The patient who was once in a lot of pain is now able to function normally, without headaches, upper back or shoulder pain.
CALL NOW FOR A COMPLIMENTARY ASSESSMENT
 Neupane S, Ifthikar Ali UT, Mathew A. Text-Neck Syndrome- Systemic review.Imperial journal of Interdisciplinary Research 2017;3(7):141-148