Text neck is a term coined to describe posture formed when you lean forward for a long time to focus on a mobile screen or laptop, or other devices. It results in neck pain, headache, and shoulder pain. Over time, it can also lead to difficulty sleeping.
Twenty years ago when we were starting chiropractic school, this term has not yet been established as smart phones and tablets were just becoming popular. With the increase in the usage of mobile phones, the risk of text neck is constantly growing. Nowadays, it is a common issue and can be managed effectively by lifestyle changes, exercise, and chiropractic care.
Signs and symptoms associated with text neck:
The symptoms of text neck vary in severity. The most common symptoms experienced in text neck are neck pain, neck stiffness, headache, and soreness. Other symptoms may include:
- Pain that travels from your neck into the shoulders and arms
- Weakness of shoulder muscles
- Spinal degeneration
- Disc compression
Neck pain and stiffness are the common occurrences in individuals who stay lean for hours using mobile phones; other symptoms may vary from person to person depending upon the severity of the condition.
How to manage text neck pain?
Muscle imbalance usually develops in-text neck and other conditions. Patients commonly come into the office with neck complaints stemming from their daily use of phones and sedentary lifestyles. As chiropractors, we can help correct these muscle imbalances to restore the natural alignment of the head and neck. However, we also strive to educate our patients to avoid continued complaints.
Physical therapy program:
A physical therapist can design a specific exercise program after evaluating your condition. Initially, the physical therapy program is initiated at a clinic, and several training sessions may be required to develop a home-based training program for you. It will involve specific exercises involving stretching and strengthening specific muscles and ligaments to normalize the posture.
Neck exercises can be performed at home or at work to improve your condition. Our rule of thumb is: if your neck and shoulders feel stiff, stop what you are doing and take a 2-minute stretch break. When you go back to what you were doing – reassess the position of your phone or computer.
How to avoid text neck?
Text neck can be avoided by adopting simple lifestyle changes such as:
Keep phone and eyes in balance:
Text neck is usually due to leaning forward to focus on the screen etc. You can avoid it by raising your phone to minimize the degree of forwarding bending(4).
Take frequent breaks:
Avoid using your mobile phone continuously. Instead, take frequent breaks while using your mobile phone or any device that causes forward bending of the neck. Consider using a headset or earbuds to have the phone near you instead of looking downwards.
Exercising regularly improves your muscle health and blood flow. Adopt the habit of exercising regularly and spending time in greenery.
The bottom line:
Text neck is not a serious medical issue. Society’s overuse of mobile phones and other electronic devices can be managed effectively by lifestyle changes and chiropractic care!