Smartphones. They’re an incredible invention. They bring us connection to others and to information. They are our alarm clocks, calendars, phone books and more. They definitely make life easier, but with all good things there’s a bit of catch.
You probably have already experienced it – the need to roll your neck or your shoulders to relieve tightness after looking down at your device for a long time. That gaze down produces undo stress on the spine and neck. In fact, bending your head down 45-60% can put as much as 60 lbs of force on your upper spine. Your neck can not sustain that amount of pressure for long, and that’s when problems can occur – commonly called “text neck syndrome” – which can lead to prolonged spine damage. An evaluation with one of the spine specialists at NEOSM can provide a medical diagnosis and here are symptoms to look out for:
Symptoms of Text Neck Syndrome
- Pain in the neck, upper back or shoulders
- This pain can be localized to one specific spot or more broad in the overall area. Pain can also radiate down the spine or arms.
- Change in posture
- A shift in your posture with head forward (ears not aligned over the shoulders) or rounded shoulders. This can even lead to balance issues.
- Pain when Looking Down
- Increased pain when gazing down to use your device
- Tension headaches from neck pain are common
First step in treating text neck syndrome is to undo the habits that caused the condition to begin with. Raise the phone up to eye level to relieve the pressure on your spine and take breaks from use. Stretch out your neck, shoulder and upper back to ease the muscles. Be conscious of your posture and straighten out when you feel a forward tilt of your head. In addition, to ease pain try sleeping with a cervical pillow to provide additional support. Add neck, shoulder and upper back strengthening exercises to your workouts.
As mentioned, it is best to consult with a spine specialist for an examination and to diagnosis any causes of pain. The team at Northeast Orthopedics and Sports Medicine is here to ensure you receive the highest level of care and attention.