Do You Have Text Neck? 6 Tips to Help!
Do you have neck pain? Do you spend multiple hours every day looking at your phone?
The two might be more related than you think. Recent studies have analyzed the stress placed on the cervical spine through the typical posture of people looking at their smart phones. The average head weighs approximately 10-12 pounds! The increased angle that our heads tilt when looking down at mobile devices has been shown to increase the weight on our necks to about 60 pounds. This is like carrying an 8-year-old around on your neck for several hours per day? Who wants to do that?! You might even be in this exact position reading this post on your phone, and if not, it’s likely you see someone staring down at their phone. Slumped shoulders, head tilted looking down. It’s happening everywhere.
“Text neck” is a recently developed term to describe the symptoms associated with overuse of electronic devices, particularly our smartphones. This results in overload and repetitive stress on the muscles and joints in the cervical spine from prolonged forward head or neck posture, often leading to headaches, back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and even numbness in the arms. It is common across all ages, with a rise noted in children and adolescents. One study found that children and adolescents spend an average of 5-7 hours a day with their head flexed over, whether reading or on a handheld device, adding up to between 1,825 and 2,555 hours a year. It is estimated that high school students spend an extra 5,000 hours per year in poor posture in addition to the above number!
Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with Text Neck:
- Stiff neck: neck soreness and difficulty turning your head, especially after long usages of mobile devices
- Pain: usually described as a dull aching pain in one spot or throughout an area of the neck
- Radiating pain: you may feel the effects of Text Neck into the shoulder blades, shoulders or even into the arms
- Headache: muscle tightness caused at the base of the skull can cause tension type headaches or headaches in the back of the head
So you’re probably wondering, what can I do to reduce these effects? Here are 6 tips on how you can correct, avoid and reduce the symptoms and risk associated with using mobile devices:
With advancing technology, our handheld devices will continue to be a large part of our lives. These tips can help make sure it doesn’t cause more harm than good. If you feel you may be experiencing the negative impacts of frequent cell phone or tablet use, contact your primary care physician, orthopedist or a physical therapist!
About the author:
Brittany Soda, PT, DPT, OCS is a board-certified orthopedic specialist who works in the physical therapy department of Connecticut Orthopedics in Milford. She is also an adjunct professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Springfield College. Brittany enjoys treating patients of all ages with a variety of orthopedic conditions.
Apta.org. (2019). ‘Text Neck’ the Focus of Upcoming Study.
Fares, et al. Musculoskeletal neck pain in children and adolescents: Risk Factors and Complications, Surg Neurol Int. 2017.