Well, years ago, nobody imagined that we wouldn’t be able to live without a little screen in our hands. No matter how hard we try to decrease screen time, those devices hold an increasing proportion of our work and entertainment.
Along with prolonged smartphone usage comes text neck, a strain injury that’s becoming more common lately. Aggravating muscle pain in the neck, shoulders, and sometimes the lower back is seen even in teens and young kids.
Text neck is a term used to describe the neck pain and damage sustained from looking down at your cell phone, tablet, or other wireless devices too frequently and for too long.
How does text neck cause neck/back pain?
The weight of the head is a critical factor for text neck pain. The neck’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments support the head’s weight—10 to 12 pounds—in a neutral position balanced atop the cervical spine. When texting on the phone, it is common to bend the head forward and look down at a 45- or 60-degree angle, which places about 50 to 60 pounds of force on the neck. The neck cannot withstand this amount of pressure over a prolonged period.
The course of text neck
Text neck typically begins with a relatively mild neck or upper back ache. It could also present with sharp pain or stiffness in the neck. When text neck is suspected of causing pain, it is typically treated with a combination of:
- Limiting screen time use to necessary tasks
- Using better posture by holding devices up closer to eye level
- Performing exercises and stretches that specifically target the neck, chest, and upper back
If this issue is not addressed in time, the continued forward head posture and hunched shoulders may worsen, leading to more pain and reduced mobility in the neck, upper back, and shoulders.
In some cases, the excessive forward head posture may exacerbate or accelerate degenerative conditions in the cervical spine, such as cervical degenerative disc disease and cervical osteoarthritis.
How to prevent it
Preventing text neck syndrome is possible by adjusting your posture and behaviour while using your mobile phone or other electrical devices. You should try to align your neck, so it is as straight as possible and doesn’t hunch your shoulders and arch your back. Try to change your posture now and then if you are using your phone for long periods.
Three tricks to help you feel better:
- Straighten up – Learn proper posture and neck alignment by peeking at your profile in a mirror. If you’re standing correctly, you should be able to draw a vertical line from your ear to your shoulder.
- Arch your back – If your posture isn’t perfect, try doing shoulder extensions. Arch your neck and upper back backwards, pulling your shoulders into alignment under your ears. This simple stretch can alleviate stress and muscle pain.
- Look forward – Rather than tilting your chin down to read your smartphone, raise the device to eye level. The same goes for your desktop computer. Your monitor screen should be at eye level, so your head isn’t perpetually dropping and causing muscle strain.
If you have neck pain, try to alleviate it by applying ice or a heat pack and stretching exercises. Visiting a physiotherapist is always a good idea. While it may be nearly impossible to limit using your smartphone, remember to take breaks or only use it for shorter amounts of time.
How can Sancheti help you?
Sancheti houses one of the best team, to treat your neck and shoulder issues. To know more about our doctors, visit our website.
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