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What is “Text Neck”?

"Text Neck"

Text neck syndrome aka “text neck”, is a term most commonly used to describe postural malposition of excessive forward flexion of the cervical spine along with a forward head tilt. This problem has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, primarily due to the widespread use of smartphones, tablets, and other handheld devices.

As a chiropractor, it is not uncommon for me see close to 80-90% of my patients with some degree of this condition; it is essential to understand the causation of text neck and its associated health factors to provide appropriate care and guidance to patients who might be affected by this condition.

What is the cause of “Text Neck”?

When individuals spend long periods of time hunched over their electronic devices, the head begins to move in a forward and tilted downward position. The human head typically weighs around 10-12 pounds. When the neck is in a neutral position the body is capable of handling this weight, however as the head tilts forward, the effective strain / stress placed on the neck and spine increases significantly.

With every degree of forward head tilt, the effective weight on the neck and spine can increase by an additional 10 pounds. This excessive stress on the cervical spine and supporting structures can lead to various musculoskeletal issues and health concerns.

“With every degree of forward head tilt, the effective weight on the neck and spine can increase by an additional 10 pounds.”

What are the most common health factors associated with “Text Neck” ?

Several health factors and problems can be produced or exacerbated by text neck and forward head posture

  1. Neck and Shoulder Pain: The increased stress on the cervical spine and shoulder muscles can cause chronic pain and discomfort in these areas. Over time, this pain may become more severe and even lead to headaches.
  2. Reduced Range of Motion: Prolonged forward head posture can lead to a decreased range of motion in the neck, making it difficult to turn the head or look up and down comfortably.
  3. Muscle Imbalances: The muscles in the neck, chest, and upper back can become imbalanced due to the prolonged forward head position. Some muscles may become tight and overactive, while others become weak and underactive.
  4. Nerve Compression: The excessive pressure on the cervical spine can compress the nerves, leading to symptoms like tingling, numbness, and weakness in the arms and hands.
  5. Spinal Misalignment: Over time, the unnatural posture can cause misalignments in the spine, leading to subluxations and potential nerve interference.
  6. Respiratory Issues: Forward head posture can restrict the space available for the lungs to expand fully, potentially affecting breathing and respiratory function.
  7. Digestive Problems: Poor posture can compress organs in the abdominal area, potentially leading to digestive issues and discomfort.
  8. Mental Health Impact: Chronic pain and discomfort can have a negative impact on mental health, leading to increased stress, anxiety, and even depression.
  9. Impact on Spinal Curvature: Prolonged forward head posture can lead to changes in the natural curvature of the spine, potentially leading to long-term structural problems.

One of the key factors to remember is “Text Neck” is preventable, and my occasions reversible if proper treatment, and lifestyle changes are introduced. Treatment may include Chiropractic care, therapeutic exercises to strengthen weak muscles and stretch tight ones, ergonomic education to promote better device usage, and lifestyle modifications to encourage proper posture and body mechanics throughout the day.

Patient education is critical in managing text neck. Encouraging patients to take regular breaks from device usage, practicing good posture, and incorporating neck and shoulder exercises into their daily routine can go a long way in preventing and alleviating the effects of these conditions.

Dr. Brandon Pounds DC, CES, PES is the owner of Advanced Health Chiropractic. He is a board certified and licensed chiropractor in Texas. Click on the link to view his Curriculum Vitae

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