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Text Neck, a modern problem caused by a mobile device and computer use, is an increasingly common concern for individuals as young as 12 years old as smartphone and tablet use continues to become more commonplace. 

Learn what the common symptoms of Text Neck are, and what you can do to avoid long term neck pain as we explore Text Neck in today’s blog.

What Is Text Neck?

As you read this, particularly if you are on a mobile device, your head is probably bowed downward, shoulders rounded forward, with your back in a “C” shape. While this issue has been dubbed “text neck,” it’s really a problem for any mobile device, and it even impacts computer users. 

This head–forward posture puts an exceptional amount of stress on the neck and upper back muscles as they strain to hold the head in an unnatural position. This can cause a number of symptoms, including long-term damage to the upper spine.

What Are The Symptoms of Text Neck?

Text Neck is a broad term for a handful of painful symptoms resulting from mobile device use and poor computer posture. Some of the symptoms you may experience are:

  • Stiff, sore neck in general, particularly noticeable after long periods of device use.
  • Dull, aching pain that can be localized (especially when the device user favors holding their device with one hand) or general, and can also radiate from one area down the shoulders.
  • Muscle weakness and imbalance, particularly the shoulder muscles (trapezius, rhomboids, pectoralis minor, and external rotator muscle groups are mainly affected.)
  • Headaches due to strain and inflammation of the suboccipital muscle and suboccipital nerve impingement. 
  • Painful long term effects include spinal degeneration due to the unnatural positioning, disc compression, early-onset arthritis conditions, and loss of lung capacity.

Text Neck Prevention: What You Can Do

While many reports about Text Neck make it seem that using mobile devices for such a big part of our daily lives is dooming us all to a life of crippling pain, there are several things you can do to alleviate the symptoms without reverting to a flip phone and handwritten, snail-mail letters. Here are some things you can do to mitigate your neck and shoulder pain and stiffness:

  • Perform these flexibility and range of motion exercises on a daily basis to counteract the stiffness and reduced muscle strength from mobile device use; 
    • Basic yoga movements like downward-facing dog, cat/cow, forward bend, and bow pose
    • Gentle, but exaggerated counter-movements of the neck such as an exaggerated nod where you will tip your head back to stretch the front of the neck, the “triple chin” where you pull your head back while tucking your chin down slightly, creating an exaggeratedly straight neck posture, “tik toks” where you drop your ear towards your shoulder, stretching the side muscles of the neck.
  • Take regular breaks when using the computer or mobile device, even if it is just a few moments at a time.
  • Use a heating pad on the neck and shoulders to relax fatigued and strained muscles.
  • Make time to exercise, paying particular attention to full-body and upper body movements to increase your overall strength and flexibility.
  • Make a conscious effort to change the way you hold your device. Instead of holding your arms at a 90° angle and cranking your neck down to view your device, keep your head in a neutral position and bring your phone up to eye level and/or reduce your screen time if at all possible.

If you continue to experience neck pain and stiffness, we encourage you to connect with us at South Orange Rehabilitation & Wellness for an appointment to evaluate your individual situation.