Lets take a wild guess. I would say you are slumped in a chair or leaning over a table whilst reading this, with your head tilted forward and shoulders curved. And, if you are using a mobile device to read this, you are probably even more stooped with your arms bent at your side. Am I right? This familiar posture is what causes “Text Neck Syndrome”.
“Text neck” has become a common Chiropractic condition, but if you go back in time 5 years ago, hardly anybody had heard of it. Named by US chiropractor Dr Dean L. Fishman, the term is now used to describe a recurring strain injury caused by hunching over a smartphones for an extended period of time. You think with all the advances in medicine we would be getting better at this stuff, not worse.
Neck pain tends to increase as you age, with degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) being one of the main causes. However, these days the age is getting younger and younger. Teenagers and adolescent children now form a major part of this group, and if they are in pain and have poor posture now, what hope do they have when their 45?
Intense muscular pain in the neck, shoulders and even lower back are only the beginning. If you are wondering how your muscles are affected by simply using a smartphone, it is due to the forward posture of your head, changing the natural curve of your neck. Over an extended period of time, this can cause strain to the muscles, ligaments and joints of your neck.
When your posture is in correct alignment, the load on your neck muscles is around 5.5kgs. With every one-inch forward drop in your head, the load on these muscles doubles. Texting or playing games on a mobile device like your smartphone can result in a load of up to 28kgs on your neck! Sufferers can also experience chronic headaches, TMJ (jaw) issues and shoulder problems.
It is not just muscle pain that is a symptom of ‘text neck’, this posture can diminish your lung capacity and its ability to expand and take in oxygen. Less oxygen absorption into the body means the heart must pump harder so that oxygen-carrying blood is distributed throughout the body.
There are some steps you can take to reverse / prevent text neck:
- Have your spine examined and treated by a Chiropractor. At Waters Family Chiropractic we use ‘PostureScreen’ technology to help us treat spinal dysfunction more efficiently.
- Ensure that your head is sitting on top of your spine, your ears should be situated over the tip of your shoulders (from a side view).
- Raise your computer to eye level. Hold your mobile devices in the same way. Your head will now be at the correct angle, without dropping forward.
- Next time you are in the office, ask for our ‘Brugger’s exercise’ handout. Better yet, flick us an email or join our mailing list and we can send it to your inbox!
With use of mobile technology becoming more prevalent, ‘text neck’ is a rising health concern. It’s unfortunate that we have become so involved in chatting and texting that we now have to suffer the potential health issues. Added to the sedentary lifestyles most lead these days, the consequences are grave. Take a break frequently, mix up your texting position and have your spine checked; and make text neck a thing of the past.