You may have noticed a new buzzword recently: Text neck.
Yep, it is real and we see it every week at our clinic. Text neck is the term used to describe neck pain caused from looking down at your mobile phone, tablet etc for too long or too frequently…. or both.
It doesn’t just affect adults. Kids are suffering from this too. Headaches, sore neck, sore upper back are becoming more common in the school aged kids that we see. And we link it to the use of devices. Whether it be for school work or for fun, they are looking down at the device/laptop/phone, placing strain on their necks.
I have been asked- but we look down to read books. Before devices, that is what we did and we didn’t all have neck pain then. Yeah, your right. The difference is with texting and on devices, people tend to do it for much longer periods. Also, when we read books, most people lounge about and get comfy to read. When we use a device, it can be at the school desk, work desk, while cooking dinner… while walking down the street! (that’s a gripe of mine!) What is worrying, is that yes, we live in a world of technology. Our children are exposed to this daily. As they grow, there could be a possibility of permanent damage to their necks that could lead to lifelong neck pain. So my question is, yes we can’t avoid this. So how to we manage and avoid the neck pain associated with technology use?
Firstly, what are the symptoms associated with text neck?
Most commonly- neck pain and soreness.
Other symptoms can include:
- Upper back pain, between the shoulder blade region.
- Shoulder pain and tightness with neck and/or upper back pain.
- Headaches that may be from the neck pain
- In really bad cases, disc irritation in the spine of the neck can cause severe pain and even neurological symptoms.
How do we treat text neck?
First, prevention is key. Trying to change habits to ease up the load on your neck:
- We are all pretty up to date with getting our computer screens up to eye level and practicing good ergonomics. Well, it is the same for our phones. Hold your mobile phone at eye level as much as possible. The same for all screens—laptops and tablets. They should also be positioned so the screen is at eye level and you don’t have to bend your head forward or look down to view it.
- Take frequent breaks from your phone and laptop throughout the day. Holding your phone up at eye level will help this! I had somebody say to me- but my arm gets sore! Is that a bad thing?!? It may also be useful to set a timer or alarm that reminds you to get up and walk around every 20 to 30 minutes- get away from your screen or device.
- If you work in an office, make sure your ergonomics are schmick. Your screen is set up so that when you look at it you are looking forward, with your head positioned squarely in line with your shoulders and spine.
The take home message is to avoid and then you won’t have to come and see us! Avoid looking down with your head bent forward for extended periods throughout the day. Try to be mindful of your posture. It will really help.
This blog post is an educational tool only. It is not a replacement for medical advice from a registered and qualified doctor or health professional.
Phone: (03) 9773 8085