What is Text Neck?
Text neck is the term used to describe the injuries and pain sustained from looking down at wireless devices for too long. The symptoms associated with text neck are:
I believe, as some studies suggest, text neck may lead to the early onset of arthritis and the potential for decreased lung capacity. Of course, text neck does not occur only from texting. For years, we've all looked down to read. The problem with texting is that it adds one more activity that causes us to look down more than in the past. This is especially concerning because young, growing children could possibly cause permanent damage to their spines as they grow.
How often do you see cases of text neck in your own practice?
Studies suggest that 79% of the population, ages 18-44, have their cell phones with them for 22 hours per day. Most of my clients fall in this age range, so I see several cases each day. Recently, a patient came in complaining of severe upper back pain. He woke up and was experiencing severe, acute, upper back muscle strain. I told him I believe the pain is due to the hours he was spending hunched over his cell phone: Diagnosis text neck.
How do you treat text neck?
Prevention is key. I instruct patients to hold their phones at eye level as much as possible. I also remind them to take breaks from their phones and laptops throughout the day. It is also important to practice good office ergonomics.
I also recommend a series of core exercises to help strengthen neck and back muscles. These exercises can help mitigate some of the effects text neck.