Excessive smartphone use can really be a pain in the neck—and we don’t just mean the friends who compulsively check their phones or the unaware text zombies walking around the city.
Text Neck is a repetitive stress injury or overuse of the neck. Put simply, we’re looking down at our phones too much—and this translates to potentially serious, long-term damage to our spines and in more ways than one.
What is Text Neck?
When we tilt our heads down to scroll through our smartphones (or other devices, such as working from a laptop), we’re creating a gravitational pull on the skull. With the average adult head weighing 10-12 lbs., the downward pressure that is caused by texting adds an additional 60 lbs. of weight to our spine. That’s equivalent to having an 8-year-old child sit on your neck.
Furthermore, in a normal, healthy spine, there is a subtle, gentle curve that can be seen in the cervical vertebrae. In those with Text Neck, however, x-rays have shown an alarmingly straight spine and loss of the normal curvature.
Text Next is also referred to as Textural Postural Dysfunction (TPD). But no matter what you call it, it can be responsible for daily discomfort and long-term damage to your spine.
Almost everyone experiences some type of back or neck pain at some point, and, contrary to popular belief most of these conditions are not caused as a result of lifting something heavy or from a trip or fall. In fact, around 70% of these conditions start with everyday repetitive activities such as spending time using electronic devices.
What are the Symptoms of Text Neck?
Common complaints of Text Neck include headaches and neck & shoulder pain, but it can also lead to muscle strain, disc herniation and overall health problems.
How so, exactly?
Text Neck puts extra pressure on your nervous system. Our nerves are like an “information highway,” originating from both the brain and spinal cord. When these nerves become pinched or damaged from improper postural habits, problems can begin to manifest elsewhere in the body, such as pain and tingling in the extremities. Problems in other parts of the body will only subside when the root of the problem is fixed.
What You Can Do to Combat Text Neck
When someone its in a slouched, poor posture, their lower back will not be forming its natural curve. Their neck will also have a more increased curve forwards while the middle of the back will have a larger curve backwards.
This posture will abnormally stretch the spinal discs, the ligaments and the muscles and eventually pain will develop. Sometimes, it will take several months, but for some people the pain can occur in as short a time as a few minutes.
In order to combat Text Neck, start with paying close attention to your posture throughout the day. Try these steps to help you get started:
While Using The Desktop Computer
- When using a desktop PC, the head should remain balanced on the shoulders with the curves of the spine taking a natural and balanced position.
- The face and head should look straight ahead without any downward angle while the elbows should lie at the sides of the body. Adopting this posture when working at a computer will minimize neck and back pain.
- Remember to take frequent breaks—set a timer every 15-20 minutes to step away from your screen and walk around, especially if you have a computer-based profession.
When Using A Cell Phone
- When using a smartphone, users should hold their device in a higher position, keeping their elbows close to their sides to reduce the downward angle of their head. By adopting an upright posture, the neck and back will be brought into a more natural position and will engage the core, trunk and back muscles to stay in the correct posture.
- Smartphone users are advised to either use a chair with a well-shaped back piece or to stand while using their device to promote a more natural posture.
- Hold your smartphone or device at eye level whenever possible & Don’t text or scroll through social media in bed
When Using A Laptop
- Users should angle the screen upwards to maintain the optimal viewing angle and, wherever possible, putting the laptop on a desk and using an external keyboard or mouse is the best idea for promoting good posture.
- Maintain a neutral spine whenever using technology by aligning your ears with your shoulders and retracting your shoulders.
- Consciously create device-free time, like during meals or first thing in the morning or after a certain time in the evening.
How A Chiropractor Can Remedy Text Neck
Chiropractic adjustments can relieve neck pain and address the structural issues that Text Neck creates over time. Like many chronic health issues, they usually don’t suddenly appear overnight, meaning it will take time to for your body to unlearn habits you’ve developed over hours and hours of technology use.
Chiropractors can work to realign the spine as well as create regimens to help you improve your postural habits, so you can be healthy and pain-free moving forward.
Think you might be suffering from Text Neck? Call our offices today at 773.236.8396 to see how we can get you pain-free naturally or make an appointment here.