We spend a lot of time playing games, checking emails, and messaging friends on our mobile devices each day. Although it’s nearly impossible to navigate today’s digital world without a cellphone, these devices can consume hours of our day. Apart from potential distraction and limited interaction with your surroundings, spending a lot of time on a phone or tablet has other negative consequences – specifically for your spine.
The constant bending of the neck to look down at a mobile device can put a tremendous amount of pressure on the cervical spine, leading to damage and pain. At Ideal Spine, we are aware of many patients who unknowingly cause muscle strain and disc degeneration due to the added stress on their necks. This damage is called “text neck” and may even require surgery to rectify.
Understanding the extreme pressure text neck adds to the spine can help you take steps to prevent it and maintain a healthy spine while enjoying entertainment on your device.
What kind of pressure does texting cause?
The average weight of a human head is around 10 to 12 pounds, and our spines are designed to withstand that pressure throughout the day. However, when your head is bent forward, the angle of your neck can alter the amount of pressure put on your spine, thanks to the gravitational pull on your head.
A recent study by spine surgeon Kenneth Hansraj showed that lowering your head at a 60-degree angle can put up to 60 pounds of pressure on the spine – nearly six times the pressure your spine normally supports! According to Hansraj’s study, tilting the head even 15 degrees can double the typical pressure, putting 27 pounds of pressure on the neck.
While bending your head forward isn’t normally an issue, what makes text neck dangerous is when this angled position is sustained for much longer periods of time. The significant amount of added pressure for hours each day can cause wear and tear on the neck: a problem that could be disastrous for children and teens, in particular.
Are you suffering from text neck?
Text neck can manifest in a number of different symptoms, depending on the type of damage being done to the spine. Patients may experience some or all of the following:
- Chronic headaches;
- Upper back pain;
- Neck pain or stiffness;
- Shoulder pain or stiffness;
- Neurological symptoms like numbness or tingling down the arm.
These symptoms may be indicative of a few specific problems in the cervical spine, including muscle strain, disc degeneration, herniated discs, and even the reversal of your spine’s natural curvature. If you are experiencing discomfort, visit a chiropractor for help diagnosing the specific condition causing your pain.
How to prevent text neck
While it’s not realistic to stay off your mobile devices entirely to save your neck from pain, you should try to minimize the amount of time you spend on your device each day to prevent text neck from developing. When you do use your phone, try to keep your head in a neutral position, holding the ears in line with the shoulders and the shoulders rolled back.
Additionally, take breaks from your phone or device throughout the day. Shift your attention up to eye level or take a walk to give your neck a break.
Treatments for texting-related neck pain
Some cases of text neck may be more significant than others due to the amount of damage done to the neck and specific underlying condition, but there are a few treatment methods that may help minimize pain across the board.
Alternating ice and heat therapy may help reduce inflammation in the area and stimulate blood flow to loosen stiff, strained muscles. Additionally, a few simple exercises like neck and shoulder rotations may help relieve tension in the neck and reduce pain. These exercises can also strengthen your neck muscles to allow it to support more pressure.
Chiropractic adjustments may also be able to help minimize your symptoms of pain and stiffness in the neck. Using a Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) approach to patient wellness, chiropractors trained through Ideal Spine may be able to ease discomfort caused by herniated discs, disc degeneration, and other conditions caused by text neck.
Chiropractic BioPhysics® corrective care trained Chiropractors are located throughout the United States and in several international locations. CBP providers have helped thousands of people throughout the world realign their spine back to health, and eliminate a source of chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, chronic headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, and a wide range of other health conditions. If you are serious about your health and the health of your loved ones, contact a CBP trained provider today to see if you qualify for care. The exam and consultation are often FREE. See www.CBPpatient.com for providers in your area.