Text Neck: A Diagnosis for the Modern Spine

Text Neck

Hand-held mobile technology has freed us from the stationary downfall of the gadget we all know and love. But it turns out that those who have been saying “hey, stop staring at your phone so much,” may actually be onto something. That something is Text Neck. This term used to describe the forward bend, or flexion, in the neck that occurs when a hand-held mobile technology user is looking down at their device, commonly a smartphone. When you consider the number of hours per day spent looking at our devices, Text Neck becomes a serious problem. 

What Causes Text Neck? 

When the neck is at a neutral, or 0-degree angle, our head weighs approximately 10 to 12 pounds. As the forward bend becomes more pronounced, the pressure and weight of the head increases exponentially. So even though the actual weight of the head does not change, the amount of strain on the neck grows at a faster rate than what is proportional to the angle of the neck. Combining this exponential increase of cervical strain with the amount of time spent in the position, it’s easy to see how troublesome Text Neck can be. 

Researchers believe this condition could be aggravated by the physical motions of texting because the shoulders tend to round forward and both hands are often involved, whereas typical browsing behaviors may only use one hand or none at all if watching videos. 

What Are the Symptoms of Text Neck?

Flexion, or bending, in the neck to look down at a hand-held mobile device, especially for long bouts of time, can have a direct impact on the cervical spine and the tissue surrounding it. The bigger the flexion, the more force on the neck. Common symptoms of Text Neck include: 

  • Neck pain
  • Stiffness
  • Soreness
  • Upper back pain
  • Mild to severe upper back spasms
  • Shoulder pain and tightness
  • Headaches
  • Depression and neurological issues
  • Early-onset arthritis in the neck
  • Fatigue
  • Disc Compression
  • Cervical Radiculopathy

What Can You Do About It?

Preventing and treating Text Neck starts with posture. Simply being aware of how you are sitting or standing, and the angle of your neck, while using a hand-held mobile device can help you realize the strain you are in. Hold your smartphone or any device, higher so your neck is in a neutral position. 

Don’t forget to take breaks from any head-forward positioning. If you find yourself in the same static position for an extended period of time, consider moving or changing your posture. It is also important to stretch your neck and upper back to ease muscle pain and stiffness. General exercise can be helpful because the stronger the core and back is, the more support you will have for the upper back and neck. 

Are You Suffering From Text Neck?

If you think you may be suffering from Text Neck, you are not alone. While this is a fairly new issue, researchers believe the impact could be vast. With American spending as much as four hours each day looking down at their smartphones, neck and upper back pain from Text Neck has the potential to affect millions of hand-held mobile device owners. 

Complete our pain assessment tool to start your pain diagnosis and see if Text Neck could be the cause.