Modern technological advancements have done wonders to improve productivity and efficiency in the past few decades, but new technologies are not without their drawbacks. We’ve all heard of people who developed carpal tunnel syndrome after too much typing, but there is a new scourge affecting smartphone users: “text neck.”
What Is Text Neck?
As you walk around, take note of the number of people around you staring down at their smartphones or other devices. Although one or two quick glimpses at your phone are unlikely to have an impact on your health, spending hours each day bending your neck may contribute to spinal problems.
On average, the human head weighs about 12 pounds. That weight is easily borne by your spine when you sit or stand upright. However, increasing the angle at which your head is bent causes the pressure put on the spine to increase. At a 15-degree angle, the weight on the cervical spine (or upper portion of your spinal column) is 27 pounds. If you’re bending your neck 45 degrees to look at your smartphone, your cervical spine is under 49 pounds of weight. That’s analogous to carrying a small child around your neck all day.
Over time, this increased weight on the spinal column may tear soft tissue or lead to degradation of the spine. Stretching the tissue may lead to inflammation, soreness, pinched nerves, herniated disks, muscle strain and even a change to the curvature of the spine.
What to Do to Prevent and Treat Text Neck
In the case of text neck, prevention is the best line of attack. Try beginning by limiting your amount of smartphone screen time each day. Most smartphone users spend between two and four hours a day on their devices. Limiting your screen time is an easy way to reduce the strain on your neck and shoulders.
Additionally, it is important to correct your posture if you find yourself bending your neck forward. Try to remember to look at your phone by casting your eyes downward, rather than bending your neck. You may also want to strengthen your neck muscles by moving your head from left to right, pushing your head against your hands to provide resistance. Focusing on maintaining proper posture, with your shoulders back and head upright, may reduce the pressure placed on your cervical spine.
If you think you may have symptoms of text neck, consult your doctor at Southeast Orthopedic Specialists immediately to learn how physical therapy and lifestyle changes can help you get relief.
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