Text Neck is a term used to describe the excessive strain on the head, neck, shoulders and spine caused by looking down at a smart phone or tablet on a regular basis. As the use of smart phones and tablets increases, so does the adoption of “poor posture”. Most people use their phones and tablets on a daily basis and while doing so tend to to stoop their heads, roll shoulders ahead, and slouch at the same time. This forward head posture puts additional stress and more weight on the spine and the muscles attached to it. Chiropractors or chiropractic physicians say that different areas of the spine, the disc for example, are meant to absorb the body weight but when we look down for many hours this weight is transferred to the neck musculature, hence, overuse injuries arise. This frequent and forward flexion causes variations/changes in the cervical spine, the supporting ligaments, tendons, and musculature. It also causes change in the bony segments of the spine, which in turn causes postural change.
Among the most dominant symptoms associated with Text Neck are:
Neck pain, upper back pain, pain in the shoulders and back, wrist pains and elbow pains, numbness, chronic headaches, and reversed curve.
The neck is made up of vertebrae that extends from the skull of the head to the upper torso. There are cervical discs that absorb shock between the bones. These muscles, ligaments, and bones support the head and allow for motion. Any changes in this normal setting can cause neck pain or stiffness.
Poor posture of the head, forward and downward looking, as a result of using smart phones and/ or tablets can potentially cause neck pain. While using a smart phone in the forward and downward looking position of the head an individual causes stretching of muscles causing strain in the neck. In prolonged periods of time, this leads to neck pain.
On average, a person’s head weighs about 10 to 12 pounds, if a person leans 15 degrees forward, the weight of the head goes beyond double its normal weight to 27 pounds. Typically when using a tablet or smartphone an individual will be hunched over at a 60 degree angle adding over 60 pounds of strain to the neck. All of this extra weight puts extra pressure on the cervical discs and the spine causing pain.
Reversed curve is literally when the curvature of the neck is opposite of the natural curve it is meant to have. This condition occurs because the joints and neck tissues are not meant to withstand flexing longer than necessary, and spending many hours daily looking down at the screens of smart phones or tablets puts these tissues under excessive stress.
Keeping the head and the neck stretched forwards for many hours can eventually cause the normal (a good curve is ideally 40-degrees) and natural curvature to reverse. This can potentially lead to serious health problems.
Arm pain can range from mild discomfort to unbearable agony in either or both upper extremities of the body. People in prolonged postures, like when using smart phones and tablets, can get neck pain, arm pain, shoulder pain, and headaches. Arm pain is usually a result of transferred pain from the neck that comes from the act of bending forward and downwards while using smart phones and tablets in everyday life.
Long term effects
Long term forward neck posture leads to spinal disc herniation also known as a slipped disc, pinched nerve or muscle strain. Added weight on the cervical spine (which can be up-to sixty pounds) due to forward looking posture can dangerously pull the spine out of its proper alignment.
Forward head posture flattens the normal neck curve, resulting in spinal disc compression, disc damage and early arthritis.
Text neck results in decreased lung capacity or what can be referred to as breath shortness. As a result, other diseases such as heart and blood vascular diseases may begin to manifest themselves. In the same breadth, the forward head posture decreases the strength of respiratory muscles leading to respiratory dysfunction.
The loss of good bowel evacuation and peristaltic function is also a common effect of text neck. The entire gastro-intestinal systems gets affected, more particularly the colon.
The pain and suffering caused by flexing the neck for prolonged periods of time can lead to permanent arthritic damage if it is not treated.
Headaches caused by neck tensions can become very severe and in some cases a condition known as Occipital Neuralgia develops. Occipital Neuralgia is a neurological condition in which the nerves that run from the top of the spinal cord up through the scalp (occipital nerves) are injured or inflamed.
Text Neck is becoming a very serious epidemic. It is painful and has long lasting effects to a person’s health. If you or someone you know is suffering from symptoms similar to the ones described above please call us at (574) 293-7000 and set up a consultation to see how our team may be able to help you.