Text Neck

Gone are the days when mobile phones were just used to make a phone call or send the occasional text. These days our phones are used for everything. There is no longer an excuse to get away from work as we can check emails anywhere in the world as long as we have our phones on us. Advancement in technology is great however it can bring with it many musculoskeletal issues, one of which is the epidemic ‘Text Neck’.

Text neck is a repetitive stress injury or overuse syndrome which is caused by the posture we adopt while looking down at our phones. Our heads are down, causing our necks to slant forward so that our heads are in front of our shoulders. This sustained position creates excessive amounts of tension in the deep muscles of the neck and across the shoulders.

The average weight of the head is similar to that of a small bowling ball – 4.5-5kg. However this is when the head is in an upright position thus the ears are aligned with the centre of the shoulders. If you lean 15 degrees forward, the head weight is more like 12kg. At a 30 degree tilt it is 18kg and when you hit 45 degrees the weight of the head is approximately 27kg plus! On average, we spend about 2-3 hours on our smartphones each day and young people may spend even more time than that. That is a lot of time for our necks to support all of that extra weight. If left untreated, a text neck can lead to inflammation of neck ligaments, nerve irritation and an increased curvature in the spine.

Signs and Symptoms of a Text Neck:

  • Neck or upper back pain when using a hand held device or shortly after
  • Headaches that are made worse when looking down
  • Sharp pain in the neck or shoulders at the end of the day
  • Feeling of tightness in the neck and across the shoulders
  • Pain radiating down the arm with tingling or numbness in the fingers

The good news is Text Neck can be conservatively managed by one of our Physiotherapists and you do not have to give up your smartphone. We will assess your posture and hand held device use, your spine and surrounding musculature to make our diagnosis. Our treatment goals are to reduce the tension within the neck muscles, reduce your neck pain/headaches and address your posture to prevent symptoms returning.

Our Physiotherapists can use a variety of different treatment techniques, such as dry needling, joint mobilisation, deep tissue massage, posture correction, strengthening exercises for the neck and upper back along with education on your posture and device use.

If you feel you or your child may already have a case of Text Neck or want to prevent it, get in contact with one of our Physiotherapists now.

Pro Physio SA


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