What is Text Neck Syndrome?
We live in a time of continuous advancements within the technology as well as the job/working sector. As new technologies develop, we as Chiropractors, have been noticing a new phenomenon. This is occurring now more than ever and at an accelerated rate as technology improves. You may be wondering what I am referring to? I am referring to the phenomenon called “text neck syndrome”
Text neck syndrome is a term which refers to an overuse syndrome or a repetitive stress injury. This syndrome occurs as a result of spending long periods of time on a mobile device. This is not an official medical diagnosis and the name was coined by Dr Dean L. Fisherman a chiropractor in the US.
Text neck syndrome occurs when a mobile device is held or a laptop is placed much lower than users eye level. Thus, causing the user spending long periods with their head and neck in a flexed position. So, causing the muscles of the neck, upper back and shoulders in a position of constant tension. Resulting in muscle strain and joint contracture.
Symptoms of Text Neck Syndrom
The common symptoms of text neck syndrome include:
- Neck, upper back, and/or shoulder pain.
- Altered head and neck posture (anterior head carriage) and rounded shoulders. As a result of muscle imbalances caused by the prolonged forward head and neck flexion.
- Decreased neck and/or upper back mobility. Due to increased muscle stiffness which may also be felt within the joints of the spine.
- Headaches. Also known as Cervicogenic headaches. They are caused due to a sprain or strain occurring in the region of the neck, upper back, and shoulders. Looking at a screen for prolonged periods can result in headaches. The headaches are due to the straining of the eyes.
- Increased pain in forward head and neck flexion.
The symptoms for text neck syndome vary, depending on the individual’s usage of devices. The symptoms listed are the most common. There are less common symptoms like cervical radiculopathy, balance issues, or jaw pain. But, these symptoms usually occur as a result of other underlying health issues.
The chiropractic treatment for text neck syndrome include:
- Soft tissue manipulation. Using certain physical therapy modalities/tools to aid the affected tissues to relax.
- Spinal manipulation. Facilitating neural input to the affected tissues. Restoring the correct joint function within the spine and any other affected joint.
- Stretching protocols. Relaxing the tension that developed in certain muscles within the affected regions
- Physical exercise. This is an important step to achieve recovery. Furthermore, to correct the muscle imbalances caused by text neck syndrome.
Advice to help prevent text neck syndrome. Mainly, try to stay active and spend as little time on our devices as possible. It is understandable that some professions require more time spent on our devices. In those cases, it is important that individuals should:
Take breaks as much as possible. Try to take a break from your phone or laptop every 15-30 minutes. During this break, do some range of motion exercises. Including, looking up to the ceiling, looking down to the floor. Flexing the head and neck to the right and left without lifting the shoulders. Rotating the neck (ear to shoulder). Lastly, rotating your head and neck from right to left as if you are looking over your shoulders. You can lift your shoulders and depress them. Then make small to big circles in the air with your arms straightened out beside you.
Exercise! Especially exercises that will engage your postural muscles such as Yoga and Pilates. Doing normal and side planks while making sure that your entire spine is straight also work well.
Lift your device up to eye level. This is very important as this will maintain your neck and upper back posture. It will also decrease the amount of tension. The tension would have occurred in the neck, upper back and shoulders if you hold your device at a lower level.