'Text Neck', Causes, Fixes, and Prevention
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The modern, technology-driven society is plagued by the constant use of cell phones, tablets and other gadgets that unfortunately has led to a new condition called “text neck.” The condition is known to cause a literal pain in the neck, but luckily there are ways to combat it.

What is Text Neck?

Text neck is a reasonably recent addition to the list of conditions that impact the neck and back. It is characterized by pain in the neck and upper back that is typically caused by the extended hours spent on gadgets. From toddlers to seniors, everyone needs at least one gadget to keep them occupied, and the problems caused by them will only increase if not curbed now.

The most common symptoms of text neck include:

  • Pain and tightness in the upper back and shoulders
  • Pinched cervical nerve that could cause pain down the arm on the impacted side

Be it for work or play, the use of gadgets has taken over a major chunk of our waking hours, and it is more than common to see people hunched over their phones all the time. A study revealed that about 79 percent of the population aged 18 to 44 are engaged on their cell phones for most of their active time; when awake, most people only spend about two hours without a phone or gadget.

Gadgets may make our lives easier, but many don’t realize the negative impact they have on our posture and health. Technically, our head weighs about 10 pounds, and research shows that for every inch you lower your head, its weight doubles. The neck, shoulder and spine may carry 20 pounds or more, depending on your posture.

Could you imagine what all this extra weight can do to your spine, muscles and ligaments? When the head is lowered, the ligaments and muscles remain engaged and stretched, and this constant engagement can lead to their thickening and tightening. What starts off as a tight neck could eventually lead to full-blown pain, headaches, upper back issues, lower back pain and even problems of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

If ignored, text neck can develop into severe conditions, including arthritis, herniated discs, nerve damage and degeneration of the spine.

Tips for Preventing Text Neck

Prevention is always better than cure, so follow a few simple steps to try and prevent the onset, or relieve an existing condition, of text neck.

  • Hold your cell phone or tablet at eye level whenever possible.
  • Place your laptop or monitor at eye level so that you don’t strain your neck.
  • Take regular breaks from gadget time, especially if your work involves long hours in front of the computer.
  • Exercise regularly. Find exercises that help improve and maintain good posture, like pilates, yoga and simple neck stretches. Core exercises also strengthen the core muscles, which help support the upper torso better.

Our health should always be on top of the priority list and since gadgets are here to stay, it is our responsibility to use them properly without letting them take over our lives.

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References

Shoshany, S. (n.d.). A Modern Spine Ailment: Text Neck. Retrieved from https://www.spine-health.com/blog/modern-spine-ailment-text-neck

DeWitt, D. (n.d.). How to Avoid Text Neck Overuse Syndrome. Retrieved from https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/neck-pain/how-avoid-text-neck-overuse-syndrome

Fix Text Neck with These 6 Exercises and Lifestyle Tips. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/text-neck-treatment#prevention-tips

Dabcevic, M. (2016, August 31). Why “Text Neck” Is Wrecking Your Spine How To Fix It. Retrieved from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-26299/why-text-neck-is-wrecking-your-spine-how-to-fix-it.html