Taking Care of Your Spine Series: “Text Neck”
By Megan A. Tuzzo, DC
These days, it’s hard to look around without seeing someone else looking down at their phone. Or maybe you’re too busy looking down at your own phone to notice!
The rising popularity of Smartphones has contributed to increased prevalence of what is commonly referred to as “text neck”. “Text neck” can be defined as the loss or decrease of the normal curvature of the neck due to improper cell phone ergonomics. The natural curve of your neck is called your cervical lordosis. Think of your neck like the letter “C”. The “C” shape of your neck should face backwards. “Text neck” is often referred to as the straightening or loss of this curve. Loss of cervical curve (“text neck”) can cause headaches, muscle strain, arthritis, pinched nerves, and herniated discs. With advanced stages of degeneration, this curve can also reverse (see photo below), leading to even more problems and more advanced stages of degeneration in the spine.
How many hours a day do you spend on your phone? Each hour that you spend looking down at your phone can contribute to problems. The further forward your head, the more weight your neck has to carry. Forward head carriage and neck flexion put excess stress on the bones, ligaments, and muscles of the neck. This added stress can lead to neck pain, headaches, arthritis, muscle strain, pinched nerves, and even herniated discs.
My advice? Hold your cell phone at eye level when looking at it. If you must look down to check your phone, look with just your eyes and not your neck.
Healthy At-Home Tip: Before you go to bed, lay with a towel roll beneath your head as in the picture below. This can help reinforce your cervical lordosis and help prevent straightening of your cervical curve. Some people (including myself!) find this position to be very relaxing. Try this for 20 minutes a day and you may notice a difference.
Identifying the signs of “text neck” (stiff neck, headaches, rounded shoulders) early on can lead to prevention. More and more adolescents these days spend several hours a day on a cellphone or electronic device. Young children with “text neck” are more susceptible to early stage degeneration and headaches.
Smartphones are handy and helpful, don’t let “text neck” get in the way of that! As a chiropractor, I see various stages of “text neck” on a daily basis, and typically patients present with headaches and stiffness in the neck and shoulders. Regular chiropractic care along with proper ergonomics can help alleviate pain and discomfort associated with “text neck”.
As always, stop into Greater Rochester Chiropractic for more tips and tricks on avoiding “text neck”. - MAT
Dr. Megan A. Tuzzo practices at Greater Rochester Chiropractic. She takes pride in providing chiropractic care to those in all stages of life. She is a member of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and the Rochester Women’s Network.
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