Text Neck syndrome is defined as “a painful condition caused by contorting the neck to view the screen of a mobile phone or portable electronic device” which includes e-readers, laptops, etc. The discomfort is not just limited to the neck but can also encompass headache, shoulder, back, arm and breathing issues.
The human head weighs between 10-12lbs. When the head is tilted forward at approximately 15 degrees, the weight on the spine is more like 27lbs. When the head tilts at 30 degrees, the weight is 40lbs, at 45 degrees, 49lbs, and at 60 degrees, 60lbs.
Long term use of mobile and electronic devices can cause round shoulders and tightening and shortening of muscles. Symptoms can include stiff neck, localized, diffused or radiating pain including arms, back and shoulders, muscle weakness, early onset arthritis, loss of lung capacity, spinal degeneration, and disc compression as per www.physio-pedia.com/Text_Neck.
Stretches, massage, acupuncture and ice/heat packs may provide some relief of pain caused by “text neck”. Medical professionals are seeing the condition from the young to the old. However, prevention is key. Devices should be used at eye level instead of waist or chest. Professionals also recommend practicing good posture and suggest setting reminders on your phone to get up, stretch, move, and change positions.
As published in an article on https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-avoid-text-neck, here is a good stretch to combat text neck:
- Sit up straight or stand.
- Tilt your head toward your right shoulder and hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Tilt your head so that your chin touches your chest for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Tilt your head toward you left shoulder and hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Tilt your head back as far as you can and hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat 2 to 4 times in each direction.
Dr. Dean Fishman, a Florida Chiropractor and founder of the Text Neck Institute, who coined the term “text neck” has created a mobile app The Text Neck Indicator. The app notifies a user when he is engaging with his mobile device in a position that may lead to or aggravate “text neck”. For further information on the app, visit http://text-neck.com.
A second mobile app is HeadUp, like Text Neck Indicator, notifies the user when not in the correct posture, but the app also provides and illustrates exercises to do to avoid or relieve neck pain and to strengthen neck muscles.
In extreme cases, pain relief medication may be prescribed and a consultation with a medical professional may be required.