What is Text Neck?
Text neck, also known as tech neck or gamer neck, is a result of looking down at your phone or computer at the wrong angle for prolonged periods of time. People are glued to their phones these days, so the prolonged staring downward can cause strain and stress on your neck. The increased angle can increase the weight and pressure on your neck to 60 lbs of force. If this sounds like something you do and you have associated neck pain and symptoms, you might have found a major contributing factor.
Like with any repetitive motion of the body looking downwards over and over and holding that position puts stress on the muscles AND joints of your cervical spine. This kind of pressure can lead to headaches, prolonged neck pain, shoulder pain and possibly even numbness in your arms.
Text Neck Syndrome and Tension in the Neck
“Text Neck” is not exactly a medical term, but having neck tension is something that bothers a lot of people every day. With the average head weighing 10-12 pounds it’s no wonder it can cause a pain in the neck. The human body wasn’t meant to be looking downwards for hours and hours on end. If you combine phone usage with poor posture in general you can end up with all kinds of issues in the neck, shoulders and back. Muscle tension is when a muscle stays tense even though it should be in a relaxed state, and when any muscle is contracted longer than it should be it will cause pain. This is one of the causes of neck pain, though there are a few others we’ll go over as well.
Symptoms of Text Neck
Some of the symptoms of text neck are obvious, like having upper back and neck pain when browsing on your phone. Though this pain can come about at the end of the day after using it throughout the day. You’ll also experience pain and tightness in the shoulders, and maybe a headache that gets worse with technology use. Forward head posture is also prominent if you have been using technology for years and your muscles in the neck and upper back have gotten used to this type of posture. It’s exactly as it sounds, your head is forward more than it should be, rather than having your ears directly over the shoulders.
Reduced mobility is another symptom of text neck, since the shoulders, neck and upper back will be tight and in pain you won’t have the same range of motion if they were all in good shape. The neck will also hurt more if you try to bend it all the way forward since this is the position that caused the problem in the first place. More rare symptoms that are spurred on by text neck include cervical radiculopathy, which is a tingling and numbing sensation that starts in the neck and in some patients it radiates down through the shoulders and arms and into the hands. It could also lead to jaw pain, also known as TMJ pain.
Stiff Text Neck Treatment
If the only problem is neck tension and a muscular pain in the neck, the treatments for text neck have the goal of improving posture, particularly when using a phone, and exercising to increase the neck’s strength and flexibility. The most obvious solution to this kind of problem is raising the phone up to eye level so you don’t have to crouch over to look down at it. Taking breaks from looking at your phone, or any device which requires a forward head posture, is also recommended if you have bad neck pain.
Improving posture is always a good idea, but in this case it actually helps resolve neck pain. Sitting properly is important if you have a job that requires you to sit for 8 hours or more a day, so this is a good place to start. The most ergonomic way to sit is keeping your knees and hips at 90 degree angles while relaxing your shoulders and keeping your arms parallel to the ground. Crossing your legs isn’t ergonomic, so keep your ankles in front of your knees. Keep your low and mid back supported and use a back support if need be.
Text Neck Exercises and Stretches
Exercise and stretching are crucial to restoring posture and finding real neck pain relief. If you’ve ever done yoga many of the positions help with neck pain and improving posture. Downward dog is a common and easy pose in yoga and helps open the chest and shoulders which are rounded due to tech usage. The basic pose consists of starting on your hands and knees, then push yourself up with your hands and straightening your legs to form a triangle facing downard. Hold for a few breaths then release. Other yoga poses that help with text neck are the cat cow pose and the bow pose, which help with spinal alignment and counteracting slouched shoulders.
Though not a yoga pose another exercise that helps is the chin tuck. All you have to do is sit tall with your chin parallel to the floor looking straight forward and gentle draw your head and chin back. At the same time you should elongate your neck towards the ceiling and hold the positions for a few breaths. You can do a few repetitions of this one to get a good result.
If Neck Pain Is Caused by Something Else
Like we said earlier, neck pain can be caused by cervical radiculopathy that text neck makes worse. Though the real cause of this is a herniated disc in the neck, which basically means a disc in your neck has been compressed and started bulging. Discs in the spine are like cushions between the vertebrae and assist with bending and twisting, but if they’re weak or a degenerated disc they can bulge and herniate putting pressure on spinal nerves. The symptoms of this kind of neck pain can get worse over time if left untreated, so if you think you might have a cervical herniated disc it’s best to see a medical professional for a comprehensive treatment plan. Symptoms such as tingling, numbness, or weakness in the neck, shoulder, arms or hands is a sign that it could be a herniated disc in the neck.