The Washington Post cautioned that text neck or tech neck was becoming an epidemic back in 2014, and many years later, the problem has only worsened. We spend so much time looking down at our phone that it can cause harm and pain. You can keep that from happening with a little awareness, and fix the problem with a few tips.
What is text neck pain?
Healthline’s definition of text neck is: “Head forward, shoulders rounded, and back slumped.” Sound familiar? Studies show that people spend about five hours every day looking at their phones. Not surprisingly, “7 out of 10 people” have neck pain at some point in their lives.”
Sure, there are lots of other ways to hurt your neck. But the impact of texting in a slumped-over position has on the body can’t be ignored. “Here’s what text neck does to your body: It compresses and tightens the muscle, tendon, and ligament structures in front of the neck while lengthening the muscles, tendon, and ligament structures behind the neck,” they said.
Think about the fact that the human head weighs about 10–12 pounds. Now imagine how much pressure that’s putting on your neck when you bend forward.
“At 15 degrees…the neck sees 27 pounds,” said WebMD. “At 45 degrees, it sees 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees, it’s 60 pounds. That’s 60 pounds of weight stress on muscles and nerves that are meant to handle 10–12 pounds of stress, and that much load can do a lot of damage over time.”
That pressure can cause discomfort as well as neck injuries such as from bending your neck too far back at a hair salon’s shampoo bowl.
How does age relate to text neck pain?
Chronic neck and back pain are largely associated with older age. But when it comes to text neck, the patients span a wide range of ages. Practices like the DISC Spine Institute have treated patients of all ages who are experiencing neck pain related to texting, gaming, using a tablet, or a laptop in a non-desk area for extended periods of time.
“Any repetitive activity that involves that slumped-over position can cause pain and harm to the neck,” said Dr. Mark Valente, Board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon and founder and Medical Director of the DISC Spine Institute, a leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and surgical procedures. Headaches referred pain in the shoulder area, and mobility issues are also common. We have seen this happen to adolescents, teenagers, and adults.”
6 Ways to Alleviate Text Neck Pain
This chronic neck pain is treatable, and, in most cases, requires only conservative treatment. If you’ve developed pain, here are some things you can try:
1. Hold your device differently
“Hold your device at eye level or where you don’t have to tilt your head,” said Thrive Global. “Above all, the correct posture position is when we align our ears with our shoulders while keeping the shoulder blades pulled back.”
2. Stretch your neck
Simple stretches that target your neck can help. One study showed that cervical exercises greatly increased range in motion in smartphone users with forwarding head posture.
3. Do 10 minutes of yoga
“The best way to treat and prevent neck and back pain is yoga, because it helps improve movement patterns, increases body awareness, and incorporates breath work,” said Healthline. “Neck pain is caused by a muscular imbalance, such as tight rhomboids, but daily yoga sessions can help correct those differences.”
4. Take frequent breaks
“About every 20 minutes, stand up, roll your shoulders and neck or go for a short walk to improve blood flow,” said CNN.
5. Sleep on your back
There is some evidence that shows that sleeping on your back with your neck supported by a pillow can counteract text neck.
6. Work on your posture
Become more aware of your posture throughout the day, not just when you’re using a device. The more you remember to stand up straight with your head forward and your shoulders pushed back, the more normal it will feel.
When to Get Professional Help for Text Neck?
You may have a condition like a pinched nerve, a herniated disc, or even cervical radiculopathy. Your doctor may prescribe a physical therapy program first; This is often the first course of treatment for industry leaders like Dr. Valente who specialize in minimally invasive procedures.
Today’s minimally invasive procedures include outpatient treatments and easier surgical treatments with small incisions and a quicker recovery time instead of a long hospital stay. If you’re ready to put an end to your pain or if you want more information about treatment options, contact the DISC Spine Institute, experts in minimally invasive treatments, the most effective medical procedures to treat and eliminate chronic back pain. If your pain is persisting or progressing, it’s time to call a spine specialist.