“Text neck syndrome” is now real. It exists not only in younger kids and teenagers, but most people who use a phone or mobile device on a regular basis. It is basically a group of clinical symptoms that cause musculoskeletal pain. This pain is mainly in the neck and shoulders and may cause severe headaches. Until the last few years, this syndrome did not exist. I’ll talk about what the symptoms are, and what some effective treatments are available for this new syndrome.
Who can get it, and what are the symptoms?
This syndrome of symptoms was very common with adolescents and children when it was first defined. It is now prevalent in adults of all ages as well. Pretty much anyone who uses a cell phone, tablet, laptop computer, or any other mobile hand-held device is susceptible to “text neck syndrome”. By looking down for prolonged periods of time, abnormal stress on the neck causes increased degeneration of the cervical spine. This, in turn, causes additional issues with posture, surrounding musculature, and even serious headaches over time. Many patients of mine will report that they have an unusual tightness in the neck and upper back, even though they cannot remember doing anything strenuous to cause the pain and discomfort. Once I dig deeper, I’d ask about their phone and other mobile device usage, I find that “text neck syndrome” is the case. Many times even while working on the computer, we think we’ll only be on it for a few minutes, then an hour or so passes, while looking at it with poor posture.
When I say poor posture, I mean that the neck is flexed forward, and usually the shoulders are rounded forward so as to not maintain an erect posture to support the head. The muscles in the cervical spine are not large ones. The trapezius, or ‘traps’ are large muscles, that are meant to assist in proper head carriage and posture. Once the upper traps are allowed to be in a forward posture, they cause the posture to be compromised, and allow the head to hang and cause pressure on associated nerves as well. This is where the pain comes in. Proper posture is important, not only to make us look good, but it’s important to allow the nerves to work properly, allow the muscles and the rest of the body to function properly, and to assist in maintaining healthy bone density. Poor neck and trunk posture may also affect our heart and lungs.
What can I do to prevent text neck?
Whenever looking down at a mobile device, bring the device up to eye level. If that is not convenient, then bring it up as close to eye level as possible. When sitting or standing, make sure your ears line up with your shoulders from the side. For example, when you’re walking past a mirror, glass, or something you can see your reflection in, notice how forward your head is compared to your shoulders. Most people have to bring their head back a bit to make this happen.
Then when you’re looking at your device, you’ll have a better idea of how to line your head and neck to have the best posture. Do not allow your neck to flex forward for prolonged periods of time. The stress on the neck muscles will cause the pain and tension associated with “text neck syndrome”.
A cervical (neck) brace is also used by many who work on mobile devices and computers. It is a prescription device that prevents sustained flexion of the neck. It is a very comfortable device that helps to relieve pain and prevent pain and discomfort from looking down too long. My patients find them to be life changing as they no longer suffer from neck pain.
This should explain what “text neck syndrome” is, and how it can be prevented. If you or anyone you know is interested in any neck treatment, back treatment, or a cervical brace, please call my office for an appointment.
For any questions regarding my articles, please email me at:
Leisa-Marie Grgula, D.C.
Accurate Care Medical Wellness Center
18261 N Pima Rd. Suite 115
Scottsdale, AZ 85255
NEW NUMBER 480-584-3955
The old number will still ring through, but please take note and use this new number.