We are spending more time on devices and it’s wreaking havoc on our bodies. Learn about text neck and how physical therapy can help!
What is Text Neck?
Text Neck is a repetitive stress injury to the neck caused by holding your head in a forward and downward position for extended periods of time, typically while using a device (phone or tablet) or while reading a book. When holding your head in this position, it can cause many problems, pain, and even chronic conditions. The term, ‘text neck’ is a term coined by a chiropractor, Dr. Dean L. Fishman, but it has turned into an epidemic we are seeing in all of our facilities.
Why is text neck a problem?
When you are sitting in an upright, the weight of the head evenly distributes about 10-12 lbs of force to the neck muscles and upper back. When the head is not in this upright, neutral position, it increases the weight of the head by a substantial amount. Science estimates that six times as much force can occur as a result of moving the head out of this safe, aligned position, leading to what we call “the 40-pound head.” That is a lot of weight and just one of the reasons why text neck is causing people so many issues.
Over time, if you continue to look down at your wireless device, it can cause permanent damage to the cervical spine and neck. This is especially true for growing children, who are among the largest group of people affected by text neck.
Effects of text neck
Text neck not only effects bones (spines) it also affects your soft tissues (muscles, tendons, and ligaments) it also affects your bones! By keeping your head in a compromised position (down), it compresses and tightens the muscle, tendon, and ligament structures in front of the neck while lengthening the muscles, tendon, and ligament structures behind the neck.
Common text neck signs & symptoms
- Pain (neck, upper back, shoulders)
- Radiating pain (elbow, wrist, low back) or Cervical radiculopathy (pins-and-needles tingling, numbness, and/or weakness may radiate from the neck down into the shoulder, arm, and/or hand)
- Changed appearance: forward head posture and rounded shoulders
- Reduced mobility and tightness in shoulders and neck
- Increased pain with movement (neck flexion)
- Jaw pain
How can physical therapy help text neck?
The main goal of treatment is to reduce the tension within the neck muscles, reduce the pain within your neck and address the postures that aggravate your symptoms. This will normally involve postural awareness and strengthening exercises to correct for the future and prevent a recurrence.
After your physical therapist has assessed your lifestyle, posture and your neck structures they will confirm the main issues causing your neck pain. They will make a personalized program for you, utilizing a range of treatments including:
- Manual therapy & soft tissue massage
- posture correction & stretching exercises
- postural taping techniques
- modalities & specialty treatments (dry needling, cupping, etc.)
- posture and ergonomic education
- instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (Graston)
- … plus more
Adjustments you can start today!
You can start some things to adjust today!
- Raise the phone. Move the phone (and other devices) up closer to eye level so the head does not have to be tilted forward.
- Take frequent breaks. Spend some time away from the phone—or any type of head-forward posture. If needed, use an alarm or app to set automatic reminders to take breaks from handheld devices.
- Stand up straight. Good posture, with the chin tucked in and shoulders pulled back, keeps the body aligned in a neutral position.
- Arch and stretch. Arch the neck and upper back backward periodically to ease muscle pain.
- Exercise regularly. A strong, flexible back and neck are more able to handle extra stress, as well as a strong core to hold your positing.
We can help!
Whether you or your loved one has pain or you’re noticing some symptoms and think you might be suffering from text neck….we can help! Schedule your free pain assessment today!Request my appointment