Feeling the Pain of Text Neck

As we have become more connected to our phones, they have become more connected to our aches and pains. Much like technology evolves, so do the related strains and injuries. 

We have evolved from neck strain from cradling a tiny cellphone between our shoulder and ear (solved by hands free devices and Bluetooth), to Blackberry Thumb from pressing tiny keys when texting (solved by touch screens and voice-to-text), to the latest and greatest in tech-related pain of Text Neck. It is caused by the posture we use to stare at tablets and phones for hours each day. 

How does Text Neck Happen? 

Text Neck is being seen in patients of all ages, young and old. As we spend more time on our hand-held devices, we spend more time looking down at the screen. This posture means your neck muscles must work harder to support your head. 

Research conducted by Dr. Kenneth Hansraj at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation found the that your head weighs different amounts as you tilt it down due to the strain it puts on your neck muscles. For example, in a neutral position your head weighs about 11 pounds. When tilted 60 degrees down to read your device, your head now “weighs” 60 pounds due to the added stress and strain to your neck muscles.

Spending hours looking at your phone or tablet puts significant stress on the muscles, ligaments (connect bone to bone), and joints in your neck. This stress causes pain that can increase as you increase the amount of time you spend looking at your device. 

In the past, this type of neck pain was found among dentists or welders who spent time working with their head in a tilted position. 

Dr. Brad Davis, a physiatrist, or rehabilitation physician, with Carolina Spine and Neurosurgery Center in Asheville warns that, “Over time with this repetitive stress of long durations, you end up with more of a chronic neck condition.” The Center also notes that the long-term effect of this posture is unknown, especially for children. 

Symptoms of Text Neck

Americans spend an average of nearly 6 hours per day looking at digital media. It can take a toll on your body. How do you know if you are suffering from Text Neck? 

Symptoms of Text Neck include:

  • A stiff neck
  • Headaches
  • Tight or “creaky” shoulders
  • Muscle spasms in your neck
  • Trouble looking up after long periods of looking down

How Do You Relieve the Pain of Text Neck? 

As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It rings true here, even as the ringing comes from the latest smartphone. 

Eliminating and reducing a poor posture habit is the best way to reduce pain. 

Simple ways to reduce Text Neck pain are: 

  1. Take breaks – Take a break every 20 minutes. It gives your body a chance to recover. 
  2. Stretch your neck – During each break stretch your neck to relieve tension. Use this neck stretch to address your forward head posture.  
  3. Use voice-to-text – When possible, take advantage of voice-to-text. Every little bit of time you are not bending your neck adds up! 
  4. Put it away – We have all heard it, and if you are a parent, you have said it. Put it away. Not every alert needs immediate attention. Filter alerts with focus features and be mindful of the total time you spend looking at your phone or tablet each day. 
  5. Show and teach healthy habits – Call a friend or family member rather than texting. Set time limits for device use. Take breaks. Less time on the device is less strain on your neck and less pain. 

Changing you habits and seeking proper treatment for neck pain can help prevent chronic pain. 

Remember, any pain that lasts longer than 1 week or occurs frequently without a related injury should be evaluated by a healthcare professional. If you are experiencing pain schedule an appointment today!