We live in a world where we are constantly connected. We always have our phones in our hands and we can be reached at any time. But this constant connectivity can actually be a big pain in the neck and it all comes down to how you look at it… literally. “Text neck” refers to overuse syndrome or a repetitive stress injury, where you have your head tilted forward, looking down at a cell phone, tablet, laptop or other mobile device for extended periods of time. Over time, this misalignment can cause strain and wear and tear on the neck. Some symptoms of text neck can include:
- General neck and shoulder pain, tightness or soreness at the end of the day.
- Upper back pain, ranging from chronic, nagging pain to sharp, severe upper back muscle spasms.
- Shoulder pain and tightness possibly resulting in painful shoulder muscle spasms.
- Instant upper back or neck pain when using a cell phone or tablet.
- Intermittent or constant headache made worse when looking down or using the computer.
Here are some ways to help prevent text neck pain:
- Raise you phone or tablet up to eye level so your head doesn’t have to be tilted.
- Take frequent breaks. Spend some time away from the phone. Change positions when texting—lying on one’s back is an excellent way to relieve pressure on the neck.
- Stand/sit up straight. Good posture keeps your body aligned in a neutral position.
- Arch and stretch. Arch the neck and upper back backward periodically to ease muscle pain.
- Stay fit. A strong, flexible back and neck are more able to handle extra stress.
You can also try some of these simple stretches to keep your neck healthy:
- Tuck your chin down toward the neck, and then slowly raise it up toward the ceiling.
- Rotate your head so that it is looking out over one shoulder, then turn slowly and rotate in the other direction.
- Rotate your shoulders in a clockwise direction while holding the arms down by the sides of the body; then repeat in a counter clockwise direction.
David J. BenEliyahu, DC, DAAPM, DABCSP is the Administrative Director of the Back & Neck Pain Center at Mather Hospital.
Attend a free seminar on the prevention and treatment of back and neck pain.