Texting Can Spell Trouble For Your Neck
With more than 90 percent of American adults and 75 percent of teens carrying mobile phones, texting has become wildly popular—but in ways that don’t bode well for our posture and neck health.
The popularity and mobility of smartphones introduced new verbs into our lexicon. We used to call to communicate; now we text. And since we are carrying our phones with us constantly, we can remain in uninterrupted contact with the world. But the lure of technology has a downside: bending over our phones is taking a toll on the long-term health of our neck and spine. Now neck pain and texting has become commonplace.
Neck pain and texting
With the widespread use of smartphones and other wireless technology, spine practices have noticed the emergence of worrisome symptoms that signal spine damage. People have made a habit of looking down at their phones as they use them, and they are using them frequently and for long periods of time. We may not realize how much strain this posture places on our necks. A recent study published in the Surgical Technology International journal reports that when we hold our head erect, our spine bears 10 to 12 pounds of weight to maintain our head’s position. This amount of weight increases as we tilt our head forward. When our head is tilted forward 30 degrees, its weight increases to 30 to 40 pounds. When we tilt our head 60 degrees, we increase the weight to 60 pounds.
The increased stress on our neck is causing neck and shoulder pain and headaches. Over time, “text neck” posture can lead to premature disc degeneration that may put us at higher risk for developing neck arthritis and a permanently hunched back.
Text Neck symptoms
The following symptoms could be a warning that you are suffering from text neck:
- Neck pain, soreness, and headaches.
- Upper back pain that begins as an annoyance and gradually becomes more severe.
- Shoulder tightness and pain.
- Pain radiating down your arm and into your hand, caused by a pinched cervical nerve.
How to protect your neck
You don’t have to give up texting to protect your neck. Prevention is the best defense; practicing posture awareness and keeping your head erect while you use your favorite devices are the easiest ways to prevent neck pain and texting. People with text neck symptoms have responded well to physical therapy and exercises designed to strengthen the muscles that support the neck. And our Summit Orthopedics spine team is here to help make sure that you are able to enjoy all of the benefits of modern communication while protecting spine health and preserving an active, pain-free lifestyle.
More resources for you
Meet the Expert: Doctor Bio Video Series
Dr. Hansen explains why arthritis fellowship training is linked to better patient care and better outcomes.
Summit’s arthritis specialists offer a broad range of nonsurgical treatments to manage arthritis pain.