If you have a teen in your home or you’re around teens at all, then you’ve noticed how much they are focused on their phones. But they aren’t the only ones. Americans as a whole are spending an average of five to six hours each day on their phones.
As for texting, we’re each getting an average of almost 3,000 text messages a month. Since I’m not getting anywhere near that many, that means some people are getting a whole lot more than that.
Now, consider the number of times people typically check their phones throughout the day. It could be to answer a call, check social media, text, look up an address or whatever. This generally happens about 63 times a day.
All this smartphone interaction is very hard on our necks.
An Epidemic of “Text Neck”
You’re probably anticipating where I’m going with this. A person checking their phone, texting and so on tends to be bent over and staring at the screen. A lot of the time, they’re sitting slumped in a chair with their shoulders badly hunched over.
This isn’t going to do much harm if a person just does it once in a while. But you can see that plenty of people are in this position for hours every day. This is creating lasting problems for many of my patients. And, of course, for millions of people all over the world. The problem now has a name: text neck.
I thought I’d take a moment to educate you on the symptoms of text neck, how they can be alleviated and how to avoid them.
Symptoms of Text Neck
While text neck is not a medical diagnosis, it is a handy term to describe this increasingly common problem. Those with this condition are likely to suffer from:
- Sharp pain in the neck, upper back or shoulders
- Rounded shoulders
- Forward head posture
- Eye pain
- Weak shoulder muscles
- Tension headaches
- Tingling or numbness in arms
- Stiffness and decreased mobility in shoulders
- Pain when bending the neck forward
Do you wonder why bending your head forward to look at a phone is such a big deal? If you lean your head just 15 degrees forward, you’re loading your neck with 27 pounds of weight. Most of us do not have necks robust enough to deal with that load for long periods of time, especially not five to six hours a day.
Naturally enough, if a person suffers from text neck and does not get this condition corrected, significant structural harm can occur, such as the following:
- Degeneration of the vertebrae
- Compression of the discs between vertebrae in the neck
- Arthritis (at any age)
- Loss of lung capacity
If the discs or vertebrae begin to deteriorate, it’s often not possible to reverse this damage. That’s why early correction and prevention are important.
How to Prevent and Correct Text Neck
The first thing a person with text neck is going to have to realize is that their habits are going to have to change. They will have to learn to raise their phone to eye level. When they are sitting at a table or desk, an adjustable smartphone stand can help them eliminate scrunching down to look at the phone.
Chiropractic adjustments can help get the vertebrae back into their proper alignment, but remember, if the neck has been bent for months or years, it will take more than one or two adjustments to get the neck back to where it needs to be. Exercise and stretches can speed up improvement.
If you’re in the St. Louis area and you or one of your kids is suffering from the pain, stiffness and loss of function of text neck, I hope you’ll schedule an appointment with me. As well as helping you correct this condition, I can also monitor the health of your neck and whole spine long-term. Give us a call at (314) 635-1008 to schedule your appointment now!