Patients enter our clinic at a phenomenal rate with neck pain from looking down at their mobile devices. Hours are spent on cell phones and laptops because they are convenient. But the price of this convenience is often poor neck posture, leading to text neck. Despite the name "text neck," pain is not isolated to the neck but also can extend to the upper back and shoulder area.
Chiropractic care is one of the most effective treatments for text neck, and ChiroCare of Florida has solutions for your pain.
What is "Text Neck"?
When using electronic devices, such as mobile phones and laptops, users tend to shift their heads down to look at them instead of guiding the technology to eye level. About 75% of the population spends hours arched over devices for personal or professional reasons each week.
The constant overuse, or stress, on the neck by looking downward is known as text neck and is periodically referred to as tech neck syndrome. Text neck has been a growing problem in society, with high-tech mobile devices being the root cause. Adolescents have a high number of incidents resulting from tech neck. Neck pain is ranked 8th for the most common medical issue among their generation, which is higher than other conditions like asthma.
Hunching over and forward to look at screens causes the body to bend in unnatural positions. The head weighs an average of 10 pounds, and arching over your center of gravity causes muscle damage and joint pain because of the excessive weight. Each time the head moves forward an inch, it doubles the force placed on the spine. The human spine is not designed to handle this additional weight for long periods of time. These misalignments (subluxations) can cause damage to the nerves and potentially to discs.
Common signs of text neck include stiff neck, shoulder pain, and headaches, but if you've started to notice pain, the damage has already occurred. The body doesn't respond to all pain but instead regulates what the body feels. The nervous system signals pain to areas you concentrate on. For instance, if you fall to the ground, there is likely pain throughout the side you fell on. However, you may notice a scratch or swelling in an extremity, causing you to focus on that area over the other areas. This leads to the body's perception of more intense pain in the area you're focusing on and less on the other areas.
Relationship Between Forward Head Position and Text Neck
Forward Head Position (FHP) is when your ears are not in line with your shoulders but slightly forward (hyperextended) in relation to the body's axis. This is a direct result of chronic text neck syndrome. FHP causes a limited range of motion for the cervical spine and can lead to spinal degeneration. There is a direct correlation between FHP and neck pain, leading to less range of motion.
Other conditions developed from Forward Head Position include decreased respiratory function due to weakened and constricted diaphragm function. Sleep apnea is a possible concern stemming from FHP due to the misalignment of the cervical spine causing airway obstruction. The pressure of the forward placement creates a narrow passageway resulting in strained breathing. Patients with Forward Head Position often have balance disturbances leading to potential falls that can cause additional injuries.
How to Prevent Text Neck
Fixing poor posture is the first step to repairing text neck. The cervical spine is shaped like a "C" with an opening in the back, and when you stare at the phone in the misaligned position for too long, it shifts the cervical spine's shape. Pain forms when this misalignment occurs. However, there is hope in fixing and further preventing text neck.
Raising your screen to eye level will reduce the possibility of text neck. A higher screen level allows you to sit correctly, resulting in proper posture and reestablishing the "C" shape of the cervical spine. Restoring the muscle memory will take time, but it will assist in recognizing when improper crouching transpires.
Avoiding excessive use of electronic devices also helps diminish the possibility of text neck. If you must be on your device throughout the day, try to take frequent breaks and limit looking down at tech devices for more than a few minutes at a time. Limiting your daily average screen time to 1-3 hours max is another recommendation to ease text neck. Limiting the period of time your head is arched over reduces the amount of force on the upper spine.
Exercises for text neck support healing and promote the prevention of future instances. These exercises can be completed sitting in a chair, standing, lying in bed, or even cooking dinner, making them desirable and easy for patients. Our chiropractors will help show you how to properly perform the following text neck exercises.
- Chin tuck exercises may feel uncomfortable, but they are ideal for rebuilding the neck muscles. Sitting straight up, pull the chin and head straight back. You may choose to place a finger on the chin to prevent rotating the head up or down. Make sure the shoulders are relaxed and back so that the tension does not transfer to the upper back. Once you feel the stretch in the neck, hold it for 5-10 seconds and release. Repeat this 10 times daily. If you're struggling to keep your head straight, try doing this on a flat surface such as the floor or against a wall.
- Neck rotations help with the range and motion of the neck muscles. Again, keep the back straight and shoulders, face straight ahead, and slowly turn the head to the left. You'll want to go as far as your neck will allow without experiencing pain but also allowing a good stretch. Once you have reached that point, you'll want to hold it for about 5 seconds before returning to a neutral position. Complete this on the opposite side and complete this rotation 10 times daily.
- Lateral neck flexion is one of the best stretches for tightness in the neck and upper shoulder blades. From a forward standing stance, tuck your head to the left as if you are looking at your armpit. Take your left hand and gently pull your head towards the diagonal of the armpit. You should feel a stretch in the neck and shoulder blades but only go to your comfort level to prevent further injury. Hold this stretch for 5 seconds, return to the original position, and repeat on the right side. Complete this repetition 10 times daily. This is another
How Chiropractic Care Can Help
Chiropractic adjustments help with neck pain, back pain, and headaches — all of which may be derived from text neck. Receiving chiropractic treatments will alleviate pain and increase joint mobility, resulting in feeling and functioning better.
- Postural correction decreases the wear and tear on your body. Our chiropractors will educate you on the proper postural form for standing and sitting. ChiroCare of Florida will suggest tools, such as support rolls and cushions, to ensure you maintain correct posture on the go or at work. Good posture prevents muscle aches and disc damage, promotes stress reduction, forms a stronger core, and improves brain function.
- Stretching techniques help keep muscles and joints fluid to prevent strain. Stretching is an excellent opportunity to wake the body up, as stretching promotes blood flow and lessens grogginess. Daily stretching reduces pain, increases mobility, and loosens up joints. Combined with postural correction, stretching rebuilds muscle memory to improve proper alignment. Movements involving extending the muscles help limit future instances of stiffness.
- Rapid release therapy (RRT) is a tool to help break down adhesions in the body, which is helpful for long-term issues like text neck or forward head position. RRT helps release tense muscles and improve range of motion while using high-frequency impulses. Rapid release therapy can be used on small areas, such as fingers and toes, to larger areas like the trapezius muscle.
Don't wait to schedule an appointment at one of ChiroCare of Florida's nine locations. Our office will help you with pain management and mobility with our wide range of techniques. Call us today at (877) 388-2165, so we can make you feel great again!