It’s no secret that people spend more time on their phone texting and using the Internet than using it as an actual phone. At first, it seemed only beneficial – to send off quick messages at the drop of a hat or look something up quickly on the Internet. But, no one anticipated just how harmful smartphone usage is becoming. From too much screen time at younger and younger ages to vehicle accidents to social problems, smartphone usage is becoming ever riskier. A new problem is becoming even more clear. It’s called Text Neck and it’s a literal pain in the neck.
You probably experience it without even really realizing it. From headaches and migraines to tension in the shoulders and neck. At the most, it causes pain that can radiate down the spine and up into the head, causing back pain as well as headaches.
Doctors increasingly see this problem with not just young adults but children and older adults as well.
What Is Text Neck?
When you text or look at your wireless device, where are you looking? Best guess is that you’re looking down, which puts the head in and neck in an unnatural position. This position also adds more strain to the shoulders and spine. Over time, it could even change the alignment of your spine and cause spinal growth issues for children as they grow.
When you tilt your head down, it puts more strain the neck and spine as if the head weighed more. A tilted head is going to feel like it weighs more than when you look straight ahead. This weight, like an overly heavy backpack, causes the pain in your neck, back, and even shoulders.
Of course, looking down and tilting your head is not a new action for humans. After all, we look down all the time to read. However, the difference with Text Neck is that people are spending more time being captivated by what’s on the screen without taking adequate breaks. When reading, most people take frequent breaks by looking up. However, researchers are finding more frequently that people do not look away from their screens often enough. People are even blinking less, which is leading to more than just neck problems but also eye problems.
Moreover, some people take a break from looking at their device but go to reading which is the same position. So, you’re really not giving yourself a break at all from the position of hanging the head.
Symptoms Of Text Neck
Chances are you’ve actually experienced Text Neck and frequently. It may be as little as tension in the neck and shoulders or as great as a migraine. In fact, most people assume vision problems or worse when they get frequent headaches or migraines. Yet, many times those headaches are actually a symptom of neck problems. Other symptoms include:
- Neck pain, soreness, and stiffness
- Upper back pain – nagging or sharp pain, and even muscle spasms
- Shoulder pain and tightness
- Pain that radiates down your spine and even down your arm into your hand
- Chronic headaches or migraines with no overt medical cause
- Increased curvature in the spine not associated with biological scoliosis.
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How To Avoid The Pain In The Neck
Quite simply: limit your smartphone usage. It’s incredibly important to not just change your posture. If you lift your device to eye level – which is where it should be – without limiting your time on it, you’ll create problems in your arms and shoulders that are now taking the strain. The reality is that there is no great posture for avoiding text neck unless you limit your time on your device.
Any device, and even a book and television should be sitting at eye level and in an ergonomic position.
Amusingly, there’s also an app – ironically called Text Neck – that offers real-time feedback” about your posture in front of the device. It was developed by a chiropractor that saw the writing on the wall when it came to neck problems and smartphones. This app can help determine whether you need to change your posture and how you should change it.
Relieving Text Neck
Aside from limiting your device usage and changing your posture, you can do other things to relieve the pain in your neck. A physical therapist can work on your posture and strengthening your neck muscles. Manual therapy, like a massage, can also relieve the pain.
Doing stretches throughout the day – such as head rolls – is something you can do on your own. However, these are only temporary relievers as you have to remove the problem to become totally pain-free from Text Neck. Limiting your usage, changing your posture, and strengthening your neck and back muscles are going to help you get rid of the pain in the neck for good.