Texting has become a way of life for majority of the population and with it seem to come headaches, neck and shoulder pain. Text neck syndrome is the term coined to describe the symptoms associated with being in a hunched over, head flexed position frequently and for too long. If you're like most Americans, you're probably guilty of spending too much time on your phone, tablet or laptop. The over use of these devices influences our posture since we are typically hunched over which causes an increase of stress on the neck and surrounding musculature.
Text neck syndrome isn't per say something new, it is however the new name used to describe what has been around since before cell phones and known as Forward Head Posture. So what exactly happens and why does it cause pain you ask? Well, spending hours with your shoulders rolled forward and your head flexed forward in turn leads to your head moving forward from the center of your shoulders which changes your center or gravity. It leads to added stress on the muscles responsible for maintaining your head upright. You are essentially forcing these muscles to over work in order to prevent your head from falling forward. Ideally, a person's head should be in line with their shoulder when viewed from the side. For every inch the head is forward from its natural position, it is twice as heavy. The average skull weighs 8-10 lbs and for every inch the head moves forward you are literally putting 8-10 lbs of added weight on your shoulders. These imbalances lead to tightening of the small muscles of the back of your neck (sub-occipitals), hypertonic (too much muscle tone) chest muscles, hypotonic (weak) upper back muscles. Over time, muscle imbalances can lead to headaches, neck and shoulder pain. The symptoms can worsen or become exacerbated with maintaining the body in a flexed, rounded position. Text neck syndrome can cause the neck to lose it's natural c-shaped curved, thus changing the structure and placing unnecessary stress on the surrounding tissues and even accelerating degeneration.
The good news is that text neck syndrome can be corrected with posture awareness, stretching, exercises and chiropractic adjustments. If you haven't found relief for your symptoms, I encourage you to make an appointment with your chiropractor for an evaluation and get on the path to relief. A chiropractor is trained to detect and correct vertebral fixations which are often associated with text neck syndrome. In addition to chiropractic treatment, you will be educated on ergonomics, posture techniques, stretching and strengthening exercises.
Here are a few things you can do now to help decrease or minimize your symptoms; limit your phone use, take frequent breaks, raise mobile devices to eye level, stretch neck muscles, stand up straight, exercise and eat a healthy diet to help minimize inflammation in the neck. More importantly, make an appointment with your chiropractor or health care professional to get the relief you deserve.