It’s been more than 10 years since Apple introduced the first iPhone, ushering in the smartphone era. The ability to carry around a mini computer in our pockets has improved many people’s lives, but it has also led to health and safety issues. A growing number of people are getting injured texting and walking, while others are suffering from neck pains known as text neck, which is a repetitive stress injury caused by hanging your head forward and down for an extended period of time. The average smart phone user spends two to four hours per day on their phone, reading e-mails, sending texts, playing games or checking social media sites. That amount of time with your head in an unnatural position can quickly take its toll on your body.
That’s because for every inch you drop you head down and away from a neutral posture, the weight of your head increases by 100 percent. That means the more you lower your head to look down at your phone, the more weight your neck and spine has to carry. This can also hold true for office workers who don’t have their monitor set up ergonomically, forcing them to look down to see the screen.
In addition to neck pain, some smart phone users are also suffering from:
- Shoulder pain
- Upper back pain
- Migraine headaches
Some studies have also found that text neck can also lead to chronic problems, such as early onset of arthritis in the neck.
How to Avoid Developing Text Neck
You’re probably not going to give up using your phone altogether, but there are some tips you can follow to provide neck pain relief:
- Hold your cell phone at eye level whenever possible. Do the same with any other screens you look at for prolonged periods of time, including tablets and laptops. The goal is to be able to view the screen without needing to lower your head forward to look at it.
- Take screen breaks. If you are looking at any type of screen for a prolonged time, such as your phone or laptop, make sure to spend time away from it. Set a timer and take a minute or two to look away every 20-30 minutes. If you can, get up and take a quick walk.
Try to be more mindful of your posture, especially how you’re holding your head. The more you can keep your head in a neutral position, the less strain you will be placing in your neck.
How to Cure Neck Pain and Treat Text Neck
There are several neck pain treatments that can be effective. In addition to limiting your phone usage and adjusting your posture, try doing some gentle stretches. Low-impact exercise like Yoga and Pilates can help, since they place an emphasis on posture correction.
Another way to treat text neck is through regular chiropractic care. Spending too much time with your head forward can cause subluxations (also known as misalignments) in the neck. Dr. Cait will assess your neck, back and spine and make adjustments to your neck and cervical spine to gently move vertebrae back to their proper position.