Smartphone Neck Pain

Text Neck – Are Smartphones the Cause of Your Neck Pain?

There’s no denying that modern technology has revolutionised the way we live. Like something out of Back to the Future, our smartphones can summon food to our doorsteps or command the attention of thousands of people at once. We can request a taxi at our fingertips, and keep up with friends on the other side of the world. But, we are also facing some serious negatives. With the rise of handheld devices, we are facing an all-new enemy: text neck.  

What is Text Neck?

Text neck (sometimes referred to as “tech neck”) is the pain and discomfort caused by frequently tilting your head down to your mobile device. It’s now a recognised Musculoskeletal disorder and is increasingly treated by chiropractors. When staring intently at the tiny screen in our hands, more often than not we are hunched over, with rounded shoulders and a hanging head. Of course, it’s not just smartphones: tablets, e-readers and even laptops are often also used in our hands and on our laps, our heads tilted to see them. Even while watching television, many people will be using a second-screen, playing mobile games, texting, or scrolling their social media feed.

By slumping forward and staring down at our phones, we are putting pressure on the cervical spine and down the neck, back and shoulders. Our heads are around 5kg, and it’s up to our necks to support and maneuver this weight around. Looking down at even just a 45-60 degree angle will place about 25kg of force on your neck. By tilting your head forward like this for an extended period, the cervical flexor muscles at the front of the neck become elongated, while the muscles connected to the head at the back of the neck become shortened. The upper back muscles become elongated while the chest muscles become shortened. This is a recipe for imbalances in the neck, shoulder, back and chest muscles, and will cause pain and discomfort.

If you’re suffering from the effects of text neck, you might notice stiffness in your neck, sharp pain, general soreness, radiating pain, weakness or numbness, and some headaches. This pain can also lead to long-term neck and back problems.

How can I fix it?

Try these 5 tips to avoid text neck:

1. Raise your phone
By raising your phone up closer to eye level, it’s easier to keep your neck straight and your head upright. You might find this the easiest and most effective way to prevent tech neck, as it is a cue that will have flow-on effects on your whole body, without thinking too hard about your posture.

2. Take regular breaks from your device
There are several reasons you should be taking regular breaks from your device. By looking away every 20-30 minutes, you will keep your eyes from straining. By engaging with your environment every few hours, you can reduce fatigue and increase productivity. A long lunchtime walk should do the trick!

3. Stand up straight
Much like taking regular breaks from devices, taking this advice will help you in a multitude of ways. Ensure you keep your shoulders back and your spine neutral. This will engage your core and take some of the pressure off your neck. 

4. Arch and stretch
To keep your neck and shoulder muscles loose and warm, give them a good stretch when you wake up in the morning or after you’ve been sitting still for a long period. You’ll notice an immediate release of tension and pain.

5. Get moving
For your general wellbeing and spinal health, try to exercise or move your body every day. Not only will you sleep better, concentrate more and feel good, but your neck and back will thank you for it. By improving your core strength, your abdominal muscles will be able to support your spine and a healthy posture.

If you’re feeling pain and discomfort in your neck and shoulders, come in for a consultation and receive tailored chiropractic advice and care to relieve your pain.

To book an appointment with Dr. Scott, call 3482 2637 or click here to book an appointment online.