How often do you find your neck and shoulders sore at the end of a long day? If it’s a lot, you may have “text neck”. Text neck is the term used to describe neck pain and other damage sustained from looking down at your devices. When holding your head in this position, excessive amounts of tension are created in the deep muscles of your neck and across the shoulders. As a result, they cause both acute and chronic neck pain. Chronic headaches have also been linked to this condition.
The increased prevalence of these pains is due to the increasing popularity and hours people spend on handheld devices such as smartphones, e-readers, and tablets. But we can’t just blame technology. For years, we’ve all looked down to read. The problem with texting is that it adds one more activity that causes us to look down. And people tend to do it for much longer periods. It is especially concerning because young, growing children could possibly cause permanent damage to their cervical spines that could lead to lifelong neck pain.
What Exactly Causes Text Neck?
When in an upright and aligned posture, the weight of the average head exerts approximately 10-12lbs. 10-12lbs of force through the muscles of the neck, that is. Did you know, when your head is moved forward by one 1 inch the weight of your head dramatically increases? Approximately 6 times as much force can be generated! That is the same weight as an average 8-year-old!
Signs and Symptoms of Text Neck
The most common symptom of text neck is neck pain and soreness. But in addition to that, looking at your phone too much could also lead to:
- Upper back pain ranging from a chronic, nagging pain to sharp, severe upper back muscle spasms.
- Shoulder pain and tightness, possibly resulting in painful shoulder muscle spasm.
- If a cervical nerve becomes pinched, pain and possibly neurological symptoms can radiate down your arm and into your hand.
- Intermittent or constant headache made worse when looking down or using the computer
How is Text Neck Treated?
The best way to treat text neck is through prevention. Do your best to hold your phone at eye level as much as possible. And that goes for all your other screens as well! Also, try to take frequent breaks from your phone and laptop throughout the day. Try setting a timer or alarm to remind you to get up and walk every 20-30 minutes.
The goal is to avoid looking down, with your head bent forward, for long periods of time. Commit to being mindful of your posture throughout your day. Is your head also forward when you drive? Do you walk around looking at the ground? Any time you look down for a prolonged period of time, you put excessive stress on your neck.
Did you know that we need to have strong core muscles to support our upper body, including your neck? By core muscles, we mean the abdominal and lower back muscles. Your core muscles usually do not get enough exercise during normal daily activities, so you need to do specific exercises to target these muscles.
You also need strong and flexible muscles the neck to minimize strain on your cervical spine. This will also help support the weight of your head. Again, your neck will not get sufficient stretching and strengthening during normal daily activities. We suggest learning specific neck exercises with the help of a health professional.
Relief and Treatment Through Chiropractic Care
This information can help, but it won’t cure your text neck woes. Proper postural alignment takes time and practice. For further consultation and an adjustment, contact us today to schedule an introductory chiropractic session. We can discuss your work routine and postural alignment needs as part of my initial chiropractic workup for you as a new patient to our practice.