Are phones causing your neck pains?
By now you probably know that staring at a screen, whether that’s a desktop, phone or tablet can be hard on the eyes. But you may not know that it can also cause a more serious health concern known as ‘Text Neck’.
Using a mobile device often can lead to poor posture and symptoms relating to the neck. It seems increasingly common. It is especially concerning because young, growing children could possibly cause permanent damage to their cervical spines that could lead to lifelong neck pain.
Text Neck is an overuse syndrome or a repetitive stress injury to the neck caused by holding your head in a forward and downward position for extended periods of time. When holding your head in this position, excessive amounts of tension are created in the deep muscles of your neck and across the shoulders causing both acute and chronic neck pain. Chronic headaches have also been linked to this condition.
The increased prevalence of these pains is due to the increasing popularity and hour’s people spend on handheld devices such as smartphones, e-readers and tablets.
A recent study shows that 79% of the population between the ages 18 and 44 have their mobile phones with them almost all the time; with only 2 hours of their waking day spent without their mobile phone on hand.
Signs and Symptoms of Text Neck
- Upper back or neck pain when using a handheld device
- Deep ache or sharp pain in the neck or shoulders at the end of the day.
- General shoulder pain and tightness.
- Intermittent or constant headache made worse when looking down or using the computer
How can we prevent Text Neck symptoms?
Prevention is key, you must be more aware of postures in preventing the development of neck pains due to mobile and computer use. Ergonomic set ups at the office and whilst using your mobile encouraging a better head and neck posture, this is the most important long term change which can be made.
Make sure you’re holding your phone at eye level as much as possible. The same goes for all screens, laptops and tablets. Any electronic device should also be positioned so the screen is at eye level and you don’t have to bend your head forward or look down to view it.
Take frequent breaks from your phone and laptop throughout the day. For example, set a timer or alarm that reminds you to get up and walk around every 20 to 30 minutes.
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.
The bottom line is to avoid looking down with your head bent forward for extended periods throughout the day. Spend a whole day being mindful of your posture, is your head bent forward when you drive? When you watch TV? Any prolonged period when your head is looking down is a time when you are putting excessive strain on your neck.
Text neck can be conservatively managed by any Sports Therapist, Chiropractor or Physiotherapist. The main aim of treatment are to reduce the tension within the neck muscles, reduce the pain within your neck and address the postures that aggravate your symptoms.
After your therapist has assessed your lifestyle, posture and your neck structures they will confirm the main issues causing your neck pain. They will utilise a range of treatments including:
- Joint mobilisations
- Posture correction exercises
- Neck stabilisation exercises
- Taping techniques
- Soft tissue massage
Many people don’t know this, but you need to have strong core muscles—the abdominal and lower back muscles—to support your upper body, including your neck. Your core muscles usually do not get enough exercise during normal daily activities, so you need to do specific exercises to target these muscles.
You also need strong and flexible muscles around the neck to minimize strain on your cervical spine and help support the weight of your head. Again, your neck will not get sufficient stretching and strengthening during normal daily activities, so it is best to learn specific neck exercises with the help of a health professional.