Recently, there has been a new term popping up to describe neck pain and damage created from looking down at a cell phone, tablet, or other wireless devices either too frequently or for far too long. ‘Text neck,’ a neck and back related problem affecting more and more people each year, can cause early degeneration on the spine, which could even lead to surgery.
The human head weighs about 11 pounds, but as the neck bends forward, the force on the cervical spine increases. When the head is bent at a 15-degree angle, this force is at approximately 27 pounds; at 30-degrees, it increases to 40 pounds. By the time your head is bent at a 60-degree angle, the pressure put on your spine is at about 60 pounds. ‘Text neck’ is a problem 58 percent of American adults who own smartphones are at risk of developing, according to the National Library of Medicine. Here are some symptoms associated with ‘text neck’ that you should look out for:
- General neck pain and soreness.
- Upper back pain ranging from a chronic, persistent pain to sharp upper back muscle spasms.
- If the cervical nerve becomes pinched, pain and possibly neurological symptoms can move down your arm and into your hands.
The first step in treating ‘text neck’ is prevention. Becoming aware of your posture and how you interact with your smartphone and/or other wireless devices can help you in the long run. In order to avoid ‘text neck’ related pain, you should follow these guidelines:
- Hold your smartphone at eye level as much as possible. The same goes for any wireless device that may cause you to look down for prolonged periods of time.
- If you do have to look down, try to look down at your device with only your eyes. Attempt to prevent bending your neck in the process.
- Take frequent breaks from your phone or wireless device throughout the day. The best way to do this is to set a timer or an alarm to remind you to get up and look away from the screen every 20 to 30 minutes.
- If you work in an office, set your screen up so that you are looking at it with your head position squarely in line with your shoulders and spine.
If you or someone you know has spinal pain related to ‘text neck,’ consult the experts at Atlantic Spine Specialists. For more information on how to get the best care to alleviate your neck or back pain, or to meet with one of our doctors, Dr. Carl Giordano or Dr. Richard Nachwalter MD, request a consultation or call our orthopedic spine office in Morristown, New Jersey at (973) 971-3500.