Text Neck

Don’t let your neck pay the price of keeping in touch

The key to avoiding the latest back problem is looking up.

This relatively new ailment seen by medical professionals over the last decade is known as text neck. This problem has been rising with the increased use of smart phones. Chiropractor Dr. Susann Clothier of Performance Spine and Sports Medicine said symptoms can include muscle spasm, tension, headaches, radiation of numbness, tingling, pain and weakness down one or both arms, and joint pain.

“The major issue with text neck is that it will cause early degeneration of the spine,” said Clothier.

She explained how text neck progresses when someone is using their smart phone for a prolonged period of time. It starts when the head is held in a forward flexion posture, which can increase the curve of the upper and middle back. She explained that when the neck is in the neutral position the head weighs 10 to 12 pounds, but when it starts to flex forward that weight begins to feel like a lot more to the spine. She said at a 15 degree angle the weight is like 27 pounds and at 60 degrees this weight increases to 60 pounds. This increased weight causes increased pressure on the spine and more specifically on the discs which can bulge, herniate and tear.

Clothier explained that there are ways to keep the spine neutral while texting, things as simple as looking down with just the eyes or taking frequent breaks from the phone. She said users should be conscious of their position and try to hold their arms in front of them to look straight at the phone or prop it on pillows.

If the symptoms of text neck become apparent she encourages starting a regimen of stretching. The stretches should promote range of motion such as ear to shoulder and looking over the shoulder for a set of 10 in each direction. Clothier also recommended chin tucks.

“Everyone is at risk, but it is extremely important for parents to be aware of their child’s posture and limit the amount of time spent with smart phones and tablets so that they do not increase the risk of premature degeneration of the spine and discs,” she said.

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