As we race deeper into the 21st century, we shift further and further away from traditional industry to an economy based on technology. This Digital Age has put a mobile device in the hands of most adults and older children in the United States, allowing them instant access to nearly all information wherever they are. For many, this has become a way of life. They have become dependent on their device, whether it be a smartphone or tablet, for work, social media, games/music or even simple communication. It’s not uncommon to witness someone call or text another person within the same house or room… Sad, I know!
With our attention on our devices, we spend more time looking down at the screen rather than the eyes of another human. This not only stresses our eyes (and weakens our social skills) but strains our necks and the rest of our bodies as well. The term or condition “text neck” or “technology neck” has been used more frequently in recent years when describing people with a variety of injuries relating to their excessive use of hand held technology.
Signs and Symptoms of Text Neck
Some common signs and symptoms of text neck include:
- Soreness or stiffness in the neck
- Chronic headaches
- Tightness in the shoulders
- Numbness and tingling in the upper extremities
- Postural changes (decreased spinal curve)
- Spinal disc compression or herniation
- Loss of lung volume capacity
- Pain in the neck, back, shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists, hands and fingers
As you can see in the following image, when you are using correct posture your spine has 10-12 pounds of weight placed upon it. As you lean forward to look at your device, you increase the spinal curvature and therefor spinal pressure, causing extra stress and strain on your muscles, ligaments and discs. The further you lean, the more stress and potential damage you cause.
Think about how much you use your phone or tablet over the course of one day. Would you say it is two hours? Four hours? Seven hours? Now, think about that additional strain over the period of one week, month or even year. Here’s another way to think about it… Imagine carrying an extra 60 plus pounds on your body over that same time. You would be exhausted and sore with potentially some pain in your back, knees or feet. Conclusion, your neck is doing way too much work for something that can be prevented through simple modifications.
Ways To Prevent Injuries
If you are unwilling to give up your device, or you must use it for work purposes, here are some ways you can prevent injuries:
- Raise the device – bring the device up to eye level so you do not have to tilt forward
- Take frequent breaks – put the device down on a regular basis. If needed, set an alarm to go off every hour as a reminder.
- Use good posture – stand up straight, tuck your chin and pull your shoulders back.
- Exercise regularly – stretch the neck and chest, strengthen the back, core and shoulders
If none of these modifications are helping your neck or back pain, allow us to dig a little deeper and work on the root of your problem. Give one of our four convenient locations a call or set up an appointment online.