TEXT NECK: THE NEXT GLOBAL EPIDEMIC
Text Neck is the term used to describe the overuse syndrome that produces neck and upper back pain with resultant long term damage to the cervical spine associated with looking down at your cell phone, tablet or other wireless device too frequently or for too long.
Living in the modern digital world certainly has its benefits. However, with all the advantages we gain from mobile technology comes the risk of serious permanent health problems.
Physicians are seeing many more teenagers and young adults complaining of Text Neck symptoms than ever before. Upon examining these patients, they frequently demonstrate signs of premature degeneration of the cervical spine that is typical of patients who are decades older.
It has been shown that prolonged flexion of the neck, as in frequent texting, causes a forward head posture, loss of the normal curvature in the neck, excessive stress and injury to the supporting muscles, ligaments and tendons, an earlier onset of arthritic changes in the cervical spine, spinal degeneration, spinal misalignment, disc herniation, disc degeneration with loss of the normal disc height, nerve damage, loss of lung volume capacity, and gastrointestinal problems.
If left untreated, these changes can result in permanent damage to the cervical spine and associated soft tissues, often producing lifelong chronic neck pain, headaches, and nerve pain radiating into the upper extremities, as well as gastrointestinal and cardiovascular issues.
The neck muscles are meant to support the weight of the head in a neutral position with the weight of the head being 12-15 pounds. As you flex your neck further and further forward and downward, the effective weight on the neck muscles dramatically increases. When you get to 60 degrees in flexion, which is common with texting, the effective weight of your head now significantly increases to 60 pounds. Much more weight than the neck muscles can be expected to support without causing injury and pain.
Early intervention when symptoms do arise or when forward head posture occurs is important. The earlier the intervention, the more likely the harmful effects of Text Neck can be reversed. Chiropractors are especially skilled in diagnosing and treating Text Neck.