Text Neck Feature Image

Smartphones are one of the fantastic luxuries of modern technology. They bring the world to your fingertips and make your life much more convenient in so many ways, except one – your spinal health. So, if you have a cell phone and a neck, you probably suffer from text neck.

With millions of Americans attached to their cell phones, a new epidemic is on the rise.

The term “text neck” was coined by Florida chiropractor Dean Fishman in 2009. He began to observe more and more patients coming in with similar complaints and similar symptoms. The critical thing Dr. Fishman noticed was that these symptoms spanned all ages, young and old alike. He then looked out at his waiting room, everyone with their head down, nose buried in a phone. Chances are you are reading this article on your phone right now. Freeze for a second, stop and notice your head position. Your neck is probably rounded forward, shoulders up toward your ears. That is not normal!! You may also have one or more of the following physical symptoms in your neck or shoulders:

  • Headaches
  • Tightness
  • Knots
  • Adhesions

All of these result in reduced mobility and jaw or neck pain. Those are possibly some of the acute symptoms you have, but what you don’t realize right now are the long-term effects text neck can have, which can be devastating.

The Root Cause

Text neck posture can result in the loss of your cervical spine curve and even advance the development of a reverse curve. Why is a healthy cervical curve significant? Well, your spine protects the nerves that run from your brain and connect to every part of your body. For example, take a look at the graphic below; when you have forward head posture, the pressure increases on your spine, compressing the vertebrae, leading to degeneration and reduced bodily function.

You likely have known someone in your life that has “shrunk” as they aged. We can see the change physically, but we do not understand what is happening inside the body. This condition exists because the nerves are impeded and cannot properly communicate. This condition is typical as we get older, but there are three things that you need to know.

Even though it is not uncommon, it is not normal!
Overuse of any part of the body can result in injuries small and large. The professional and advanced amateur athletes we work with understand how too much physical activity too quickly can result in muscle and joint injuries. Tendinitis and stress fractures are the results of repetitive trauma. Think about that with your cellphone use.

Text neck is advancing this phenomenon rapidly.
We are seeing more and more young people with terrible forward neck posture, and the school-aged children now are an experiment in what will happen with constant tech exposure. They are the first generation growing up with technology from the time they are babies. We will not know the truly damaging effects of text neck until these children begin to age.

It is correctable!
It is not evitable given that we grow old, lose mobility, shrink and develop an unsightly hump. But, we can change the narrative; YOU can change it. And, best of all, it is not that complicated.

If you are like the average smartphone user, you’re spending upwards of two hours per day sending emails, texts and surfing the web on your mobile device. This behavior adds up to over 700 hours per year! With up to 60 pounds of pressure applied, you can imagine the damage this causes to your neck.

According to the Washington Post, the average human head weighs about 12 pounds. However, as your neck bends forward, the weight on your cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, there are about 27 pounds of pressure on your neck. At a 60-degree angle, there are as much as 60 pounds of force.

The pressure from cell phone use

The Action Plan

The first thing to do is limit the amount of time you and your children are on their phones. It may seem impossible, and it won’t be easy at first, but changing the habit where our phone is glued to our hands can only help in so many ways. It will allow us to be more engaged in our actual lives, not just our social media lives, it will reduce exposure to tech radiation, and it could save our posture.

Next, the time you are on your phone, pay attention to your posture! Roll your shoulders back, tighten your core, pull your head up. Correct your children’s posture as well. Try keeping your phone in front of you rather than down in your lap.

Finally, enjoy getting chiropractic adjustments regularly. Adjustments will help combat the damage we do to our bodies every day. For example, a chiropractor that incorporates a seated cervical traction device like the one pictured below will help return the curve to your neck over time when done on a consistent regular basis.

Text Neck Feature Image 1
As your neck bends forward, the weight on your cervical spine begins to increase.  Click to enlarge.
A seated cervical traction device
A seated cervical traction device
A seated cervical traction device
The phases of text neck shown in x-rays. Click to enlarge.

Take charge of your spine health! Pain, reduced mobility, and reduced function are not inevitable if you are aware and proactive.

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