Text Neck and the Heads Down Generation

There’s a new “buzzword” circulating the health news: Text Neck – a term used to describe pain and damage in the neck caused by looking down at a mobile phone.

Text Neck is on the rise!

But why is this modern condition causing pain and discomfort when people have always bent their necks to read?

Texting adds yet another activity that relies on the neck and head tilting forward and people tend to do it for prolonged periods. What’s even more concerning is the fact that adolescents and children could be risking permanent damage to their necks which could possibly even lead to lifelong discomfort.

So what are the signs and symptoms of this new age complaint?

Text Neck usually presents with neck soreness and pain but can sometimes cause severe and acute muscle pain in the upper back. Other symptoms may include:

  • Sharp pain in the upper back or shoulders
  • Tightness and pain in the shoulders
  • Shoulder muscle spasms
  • Pinched nerves in the cervical spine, leading to pain and neurological symptoms
  • Early onset arthritis

So why is excessive texting so harmful to our neck health?

When we use our phones to text, our posture adds stress on the neck that can go on to cause a lot of wear and tear. Our heads weigh between 10lbs and 12lbs yet this weight is significantly increased as we angle our heads to look at our mobiles. With many Smartphone users regularly spending hours with their heads tilted, frequent excess pressure is being put on the cervical spine. People often get carried away when they text or use their Smart devices. Regular breaks from being in the tilted head position are often missed or forgotten about.

In a normal standing position, the head faces forward and the curves of the spine and neck stay in their proper alignment. When the chin is dropped to the chest, the whole cervical structure is stretched.

So how is Text Neck treated?

Prevention is better than cure when it comes to treating Text Neck. Below are some effective tips for preventing the onset or worsening of the condition:

  • Make sure you hold your mobile phone at eye level as much as you can. Just like you would do with a laptop or desktop screen, your mobile phone or tablet should be placed in a position that is naturally comfortable for you. If you need to tilt your head forward or look down to see the screen, adjust the position until it is at eye level.
  • Take frequent breaks away from your mobile or tablet. If you think you are likely to become distracted then set your alarm to remind you to put down your device and walk around every 20 to 30 minutes. It’s also a good idea to implement some strict “mobile free” time into your day. Switch your phone off; put it aside and out of your mind. This will soon become a habit and you will probably find that you actually enjoy the break away from it!
  • If you work at a computer, make sure you adjust your screen so that your head is positioned in alignment with your shoulders and spine.

Remember that it’s not just your mobile that may put you at risk of the symptoms associated with Text Neck. Think about the posture you adopt when you undertake other daily activities. Do you bend your head forward when you drive? Do you tilt your head when you watch the television? Anything that causes you to look down for prolonged periods of time may put you at risk of developing painful and uncomfortable symptoms.

Take a moment to check and adjust your position. Take regular breaks and walk around. These small changes may just save you from developing chronic pain.