Text neck is the term used to describe the neck pain and damage sustained from looking down at your mobile, tablet or other wireless devices too frequently and for too long. Text neck is an increasingly common problem. A recent study shows that 79% of population between age group 18-44 yrs carries their cell phones all the time, with only two hours of their waking day spent without their cell phones in hand. As per one prospective study with a working population, a degree of >20% neck flexion for more than 40% of the working day was a risk factor for sick leave due to neck pain.
Posture of persistent neck flexion during texting causes a static muscular loading of neck and shoulder muscles followed by soreness and pain. Mostly the changes are short lived but can be chronic also. It is especially concerning because young, growing children could possibly permanently damage their cervical spines that could lead to life long neck pain.
Text neck most commonly causes neck pain and soreness. In addition, it can lead to upper back pain ranging from chronic, nagging pain to sharp, severe upper back muscle spasms, shoulder pain and spasms. As some studies indicate that text neck may possibly leads to chronic problems due to early onset of spondylosis.
Prevention is the key for the text neck syndrome. Some important advice for prevention of text neck
1. Hold your mobile at eye level as much as possible or for that matter any screen like tablets/ laptops
2. Take frequent breaks from your phone and laptop throughout the day
3. If you work in an office, make sure your screen is set up so that when you look at it you are looking forward, with your head positioned squarely in line with your shoulders and spine.
Bottom line is to avoid looking down with your head bent forward for extended periods throughout the day.
Next thing is rehabilitation, once someone has text neck
Everyone needs to have strong core muscles-abdominal and lower back, so specific exercises needed to target these muscles.
Secondly, one should have strong and flexible muscles around the neck to minimize strain on your cervical spine and help support the weight of head, so strengthening exercises of these muscles are paramount.
Individuals who does not respond with rehabilitation will require a more comprehensive treatment approach such as manipulation techniques, massage therapy, physiotherapy and occasionally medication.
Dr. Sanjay Kumar
Orthopedic Surgery Specialist
Bahrain Specialist Hospital