Have you heard of ‘Text Neck’?
Text Neck is the pain many people are starting to experience in their neck, upper back, and shoulders areas. The cause of Text Neck is the increasing amount of time people spend using handheld devices such as cell phones, iPods and iPads. Text Neck pain starts in the neck and spreads down to the upper back and shoulders areas.
Most people send and read text messages while looking down, and many people spend hours a day in this position. It is estimated that many people spend two-four hours every day looking down at their smartphone while texting, checking social media, sending and reading emails, and using apps. That’s 730 – 1,460 hours a year with your head bent forward and down in an unnatural position. The numbers look even worse for teenagers who seem to be permanently attached to their smartphones! Teenagers may be spending over 5000 hours a year looking down at their laps. And, it’s not just cellphones. Many young people and children use handheld video games and spend hours at a time everyday playing these games.
Text Neck or Forward Head Position
I am sure everyone has seen individuals who are permanently bent over, starting from the mid to upper back. Their heads are so far forward that their faces are looking down at the ground. They need to use a walker or cane to keep from falling over. This is a condition known as the “Forward Head Position.” While forward head position is normally seen in the elderly, Text Neck problems are already affecting teenagers with the same issues and problems.
Many children are experiencing neck pain due to text neck and the poor posture associated with it. Pain from text neck is expected to grow exponentially as more and more people spend hours every day looking down at their smart phones. The iPhone is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary. By the time smart phones have been around for 20-30 years, text neck issues will be causing problems for millions of people. When smart phones first came out, high-speed data from cell providers was not yet available. Today, it is widely available and many people use their phones to access the internet, shop, text, email, play games — and even make phone calls. Each newly found capability added to our smart phones means people will be spending more time staring down at their phone.
Bad Posture is the Cause of Text Neck
The root of the text neck problem is poor posture. The average human head weighs between 10-12 pounds. However, the further you bend your head down and forward, the greater the stress your head places on your neck and upper back. By the time your head is at 30º the stress and pull is equivalent to having a 40-pound head, and at 60º, a 60-pound head! Needless to say, this stress is not normal and it pulls at the neck, the muscles, and ligaments. Being in a head forward and down position for hours at a time is not something your neck was designed to handle.
Important Functions of the Cervical Spine (neck)
- It allows you to move your head up and down, and turn from side-to-side
- The cervical spine (neck) protects the nerves that leave the brain and run down and throughout the body
- Your neck acts like a shock absorber, cushioning your brain from jolts and jarring impacts.
When properly aligned, your neck forms a C-shape open towards the back. Your entire spine forms an S-shape. These curves are necessary and allow you to bend and move, and absorb vertical shock. Poor posture of any kind is detrimental to the spine, and the unnatural head forward and down position of texting can cause damage. There is an old saying, “where the head leads, the body follows.” And in the case of text neck, the strain placed on the cervical spine pulls against the natural curvature of the neck, changing it from curving to the back, to bolt upright, and eventually to a forward bend. And as the head pulls the neck forward, it also pulls at the soft tissues in the neck, weakens the muscles, and causes the shoulders to start to round forward.
Text Neck Causes Problems
As you have probably figured out by now, all that stress and strain pulling on your neck is going to cause problems. Usually, the first signs of a problem you will notice are neck pain and headaches. Pain is your body telling you that something is wrong, and it may have been wrong for awhile since only 10% of your nervous system feels pain.
Pulling the neck and upper body forward will cause subluxations (misalignments) in the spine. This, in turn, will cause pinched nerves and even herniated discs. Your spine protects your nervous system as the nerves run down inside the spinal column. The nerves exit the spine as they reach their area of responsibility. When there are subluxations, the nerves do not have a clean exit, and they get irritated, inflamed, and pinched. This leads to problems and reduced function to the areas of your body the nerves were serving.
In the case of Text Neck, the nerves (C1 – T5) in the cervical spine (neck) and upper thoracic spine (upper back) will be impacted the most. These nerves are responsible for the functions of your brain, hearing, eyes, facial muscles, sinuses, and more. When nerves are pinched, their effectiveness is diminished. In the C1 – T5 section of the spine, pinched nerves can cause pain, headaches, vision problems, high blood pressure, fatigue, thyroid conditions, sinus problems, and much more.
Additional problems caused by text neck include herniated discs, arthritis in the neck, disc degeneration, and radiating pain running from the neck down into the arms. Spending time with your head forward and down also reduces your lung capacity, which reduces the amount of oxygen circulating in your body and reaching your brain. The lack of oxygen also weakens your immune system and slows down healing. As your text neck problem advances, it will pull on the muscles (weakening them) of the neck and upper back, and vertebrae of the thoracic spine (upper back). This will cause subluxations (spinal bone misalignments) and pinched nerves in your upper back as well. Physically you will start to develop a hunched over appearance as your shoulders will start to round forward. Your posture will get worse and your muscles weaker.
Protect Yourself from Text Neck
Awareness of text neck, what causes it and the problems associated it with should be a wakeup call to maintain proper posture while using a smart phone. Simply lifting the phone or video game to a higher position will help a lot.
Secondly, make sure to stand up and move around for at least 10 minutes of every hour. We are sitting too much anyhow and sitting too much has its own share of problems.
Third, anyone that does a lot of texting or any activity that has your head in a downward position should see a chiropractor on a regular basis so that the vertebrae in your neck (cervical spine) can be gently moved back to their correct position. Spending time with your neck in a bad position is guaranteed to cause subluxations (misalignments) in the neck that will need to be corrected or degeneration will set in causing future problems.
Chiropractic Care and Text Neck
Chiropractors are by far the most qualified doctors in the medical field to correct text neck and its problems. Since text neck pain is caused by misalignment of the vertebrae in the neck (cervical spine) it is only natural to see to a chiropractor who has specialized training to make sure the vertebrae in your spine are correctly aligned.
Vaughan Chiropractic will be able to show you exactly what problems you have, and how far text neck may have progressed. Then, we design a treatment plan to correct the problem, reverse problems caused by text neck, restore proper function back to your nerves, and stop the pain and problems caused by text neck. Chiropractic care is one of the best means of wellness and preventative care. Having your neck and back properly aligned on a consistent basis will stop a lot of problems before they even begin. We know that texting in a head down position is going to cause subluxations (misalignments) in the neck — sooner or later — at any age. And then it is only a matter of time before you start to feel pain, experience headaches, and other problems associated with text neck. Take steps now prevent text neck.
Contact Vaughan Chiropractic at 905 850 0909 and arrange for a consultation with Dr. Gus or Dr. Jacqueline. Text Neck is a problem that can be corrected. Chiropractic care can bring relief from neck pain; restoring posture, mobility and function, and allowing you to live life pain-free and at your optimal. If you or someone you know is suffering from text neck pain, please recommend this article.