Text neck pain experienced by patients needs both treatment and prevention measures
Whether or not we want to admit to it, we all have certain bad habits we pick up, even though we know that they are not good for us. While some of these habits are easy to spot, such as smoking, overeating or not exercising, others can take more effort to identify and change.
One bad habit is overuse of high-tech devices, such as computers and smart phones. If we are not aware of our posture while using these devices, it can lead to neck and shoulder pain, as well as headaches, as a result of what is known as text neck. What causes text neck pain, how can it be treated, and what can be done to prevent it when we use our electronic devices?
Global tech revolution
In order to understand just how prevalent text neck has become over the last few years, it is important to first understand how the revolution in global technology brought about by rapid changes in data-driven communications has affected us.
In just 24 hours, an estimated 19 billion text messages will be send out to more than 4 billion people. The same number of people will send out almost 270 billion emails during the same time period.1,2
Symptoms and signs of text neck
Technically speaking, the condition we know as text neck can affect more areas than just the neck. Nevertheless, it is mainly caused by holding the neck in a forward and downward position, with the shoulders hunched over. This position places a tremendous amount of pressure on the neck and spine, as much as an additional 60 pounds in some cases.3
This additional pressure on the neck can also cause headaches for some people. The muscles at the base of the neck will spasm, triggering waves of pain.4 Shoulder pain is another common sign of tech neck, also resulting muscle spasms at the base of the neck. Shoulder pain often occurs by either hunching over the phone screen or using the shoulder to hold the phone next to the ear and free up both hands. Some people may experience referred text neck pain. Good examples of this include wrist pain, or numbness or tingling in the fingers.3,4
Preventing text neck pain
The most important tip to give your patients is to hold their device at eye level and at arm’s length. There are apps available that can help users determine the optimal position in which to hold their device.
If they tend to hold their device closer to their face because the font is too small, suggest adjusting its size for easier visibility. Adjusting the brightness of the screen may also help visibility, thus making it easier to view at arm’s length. If your patients tend to use one shoulder to hold their phone up to their ear, they may benefit from using hands-free technology, such as Bluetooth. Finally, suggest some gentle neck, shoulder, and arm exercises for your patients to do when they take a break from their devices.
It is very easy to lose track of our posture when we are engrossed in looking at our mobile electronic devices. This distraction often takes its toll in the form of text neck pain. Fortunately, we can easily unlearn this particular bad habit with some quick reminders about proper head, neck, and shoulder posture – and with posture apps, get help from technology itself.
- 73 texting statistics that answer all your questions. Textrequest.com Accessed 10/6/2019.
- Email Statistics Report 2017-2021. Radicati Group. Accessed 10/6/2019.
- Signs of tech neck. Foundation for Chiropractic Progress. Accessed 10/6/2019.
- Text neck symptoms and diagnosis. Spine Health. Accessed 10/6/2019.