Neck pain is extremely common. It’s in the top five pain disorders in the United States, affecting up to 20% of the population at any given time. The worst part? In most cases, neck pain is entirely preventable by adjusting your posture and avoiding the dreaded text neck.
What is text neck?
Text neck pain is caused by the strain on your neck from looking down at your phone. Many smartphones now track how much time you spend on your phone and what apps you’re using. Even with this tool, you probably underestimate how much time you spend on your phone and tablet. It turns out the average American spends more than five hours a day with their heads tilted down scrolling through their phones.
When you tilt your head down to look at your phone, it increases the weight and pressure on the muscles, connective tissue, and small cervical vertebrae in your neck. There is some debate on the degree that head tilt increases the strain on your spine. However, a study published in Surgical Technology International asserts that just a 15-degree forward tilt can increase the force on your neck to 27 pounds. A 60-degree angle — which is the estimated tilt needed to look at your phone — can increase the physical stress up to 60 pounds!
What are the dangers of text neck?
There are several ways text neck can make life more difficult. Here are the most common dangers:
Pain is the most prevalent problem caused by text neck. In addition to neck pain, you may also have pain in your upper back and shoulders. If inflammation in the muscles and connective tissue in your neck compresses a nerve, you may also experience uncomfortable sensations such as numbness and tingling in your arms and hands.
When you spend extended time with your head, neck, and upper back hunched forward, your muscles can become deconditioned, and your posture may suffer. As your muscles weaken, it can become more physically challenging to pull your shoulders back and stand or sit straight. When untreated, this could lead to kyphosis, an abnormal curve in your upper spine that often causes a hunched back.
Reduced mobility is an additional risk of tight and deconditioned muscles. You may struggle to turn your head from left to right, or nod. You’re also more likely to wake up in the morning in excruciating pain because of the tightness and inflammation in your neck.
Headaches and jaw pain
Inflammation in your neck can also cause severe headaches. The tension can pull on the small muscles in your face, jaw, and around your ears, causing headaches and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems. Not to mention, all that time staring at a screen can cause eyestrain, another common cause of headaches.
How is text neck treated?
At NuVation Pain Group, in Buena Park and Downtown Los Angeles, California, Phillip Lim, DO, MPH, provides highly personalized treatments to address text neck. In addition to referrals for chiropractic care and physical therapy, which can help realign and rebuild strength in your neck and upper back, he offers a comprehensive range of innovative treatments to manage pain, including:
- Epidural injections
- Facet intra-articular joint injections
- Medial branch blocks
- Third occipital nerve blocks
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Trigeminal ganglion blocks
- Botox® chemodenervation
- Bursa injections
- Percutaneous disc decompression
- Medication management
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy
He also offers regenerative medicine treatments such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, Mesenchymal cell injections, and prolotherapy.
How can I prevent text neck?
Obviously, it’s unlikely that you’re going to limit your time on your phone. However, you can reduce the strain on your neck by lifting your phone, so you don’t have to look down as much. Additionally, if you work at a desk all day, make sure your computer screen is at the right height, so you don’t have to look up or down to see it clearly.
You should also make time every day to stretch your neck and upper back. Staying physically active can also help reduce your risk of text neck pain and other symptoms.
Don’t keep suffering in pain. Contact NuVation Pain Group today to schedule a consultation so you can receive personalized, innovative pain management care.