What is text neck?
How common is it?
Why do we have it and how do we get rid of it?
These are all very good questions that connect how the electronics of today are affecting our overall health. Text neck, as it is commonly referred to, is a term that is used to describe how our neck gets damaged from looking down at our cell phone, tablet, computer screen or other hand held device. It’s the repetitive forward flexion (bending) of the head and neck, and is extraordinarily common.
We have all seen others when they are holding their electronic device down by their chest and their head is bent down and forward.
This leads to changes in the head, neck, and upper parts of our body. The structures in the neck that are most commonly affected are the bones (alignment and proper curve integrity), muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and nerves. The average head weighs 10-12 pounds when in an upright and neutral position. However, bending your head in a downwards position to look down at your device can be like having up to a 60 pound weight on your head. Imagine having a child who weighs that much standing on your head while you are looking at your phone!
These postural changes can cause headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, upper back pain, numbness in the upper extremities, mid-back pain, radiating pain into the ribs and even a decrease in lung capacity. As for postural changes, we have all seen individuals who have that “hump” on the back of the neck and other individuals who have their head stuck in that forward/down position.
How do you know if you have it? Pay attention to where you hold your personal electronic device or better yet, have a friend take a picture of you from the side when you are on that device. Your ears should be in line with your shoulders and your shoulder and shoulder blades should be back.
Can this be fixed? The answer is yes and no... If there are changes to the shape of the bones, length of the muscles, elasticity of the ligaments and the curve in the neck, it might not be reversible. This all depends on the degree of severity that you might have, as that will determine how much of this can be corrected. If this is caught early on, and you initiate changing your posture when on your devices, the easier it will be to correct this. The sooner you change where you hold your phone or electronic device and are mindful of your head position, the more likely this can be corrected.
If you are having any symptoms or concerns, call the office to get checked. Let’s see which treatment options are best for you.