You may be going about your daily life and find yourself wondering, “Why does my neck hurt?” Text neck could be the culprit.
What Is the Primary Cause of Text Neck Syndrome?
While “text neck” isn’t an official medical term or diagnosis, this term has been commonly used to describe a forward-head posture that results from the prolonged use of digital devices. Naturally, your head should be in an upright position, directly over your shoulders. Forward head posture occurs when you tilt your chin down, causing your head to lean forward, out of alignment with your spine.
While scrolling, streaming and texting aren’t the direct cause of text neck and its associated symptoms, this habit often causes poor posture that can result in stress, strain or injury to your neck and back – hence the term, text neck.
What Are Symptoms of Text Neck?
Forward head posture pushes you into a rounded, hunched position, which can also make your shoulders tense and lift toward your ears. When you are in this posture for prolonged periods, it puts strain on your neck’s muscles and bones.
Common symptoms of text neck include:
- Pain. Poor posture can eventually cause pain and discomfort in the neck, upper back and shoulders, and in some cases, your jaw. Your pain may be in one central spot or generalized in your upper back and neck. It may feel sharp or like a dull ache in the overall area. This pain may get worse when you revert to a forward-head posture.
- Less mobility. Because of repeated strain, your upper back, shoulders and neck may get stiff and tight, which can cause a decrease in your neck’s flexibility.
- Cervical radiculopathy. In some cases, you may feel tingling, numbness, weakness or an electrical shock-like pain that radiates from your neck into your shoulders and upper extremities. While this can be caused by other conditions like degenerative disc disease, text neck can exacerbate cervical radiculopathy.
- Imbalances. Text neck can also lead to muscle deconditioning and imbalance in your upper back, neck and chest. You may also experience a decrease in balance control since your head’s center of gravity has shifted forward, out of its natural position.
Headache. Along with the eyestrain and headaches that can happen from looking at screens too much, text neck can also cause muscle spasms that exacerbate headaches. Headaches could also be a result of referred pain from the neck.
Is Text Neck Serious?
Text Neck Could Cause Permanent DamageIn terms of seriousness, text neck can lead to permanent issues, especially in children and adolescents, if it’s not addressed. Along with the symptoms text neck causes, it can also result in kyphosis (a rounded curvature of the spine), permanent pain, chronic cervical radiculopathy and premature arthritis.
How To Prevent Text Neck
Thankfully, text neck is completely preventable – here are some helpful tips to avoid it:
- Practice good posture. Sit and stand up straight, with your head directly over your shoulders. Keep your head up and chin tucked in, with your shoulders back to keep your spine in its natural position.
- Stay active. Exercising regularly helps keep your back and neck strong, flexible and supported, which can reduce your chances of developing neck pain and strain. Do certain exercises and stretches to strengthen these muscles and relieve tension.
- Change your habits. Switch up how you hold your phone – rather than holding it in your lap or in front of your chest, hold it directly in front of your face. Take frequent breaks from your digital devices to adjust your posture. Set reminders or timers to help you take breaks at regular intervals.
How To Treat Text Neck
Practicing good posture and exercising regularly can help you make great strides in your text neck treatment. If you have muscle imbalances, a physical therapist may be able to work with you to correct these imbalances and help you overcome text neck. You can also do doctor-approved stretches and exercises at home to ensure you’re staying on top of your treatment.
The amount of time it takes for text neck to heal varies depending on the extent of the strain and your adherence to your treatment plan. Many people see improvements in their posture and symptoms within the four- to eight-week range with staying consistent in their treatment.
When To Seek Expert Help for Neck Pain
Cervicalgia (neck pain) affects a fair amount of people each year. While it’s common, there are certain instances where you will want to talk to a doctor. If your neck pain persists for more than a week, is severe or is accompanied by additional serious symptoms, seek prompt medical attention.
As specialists in all things neck and back pain, our experts at Citrus Spine Institute are here to help you recover from text neck syndrome. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take a step toward finding relief.