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Understanding Text Neck and Dealing with It

Multispecialty healthcare centers provide pain management services in Brooklyn, NYC for a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions. Text neck syndrome is a growing health concern treated in these centers. Caused by the overuse of handheld devices, text neck can lead to severe neck and shoulder strain and pain.Text Neck

Text Neck, Tech Neck, Whatever…

Text neck, or tech neck, refers to neck pain or pain in the upper back caused by looking down at a smartphone or other mobile device for hours on end. It is caused by bending the neck in an awkward position that severely strains the muscles of the neck and upper back. Bending your head to use the smartphone directly strains the spine. And 15 degrees of tilt on your head subjects your neck to a force of around 27 pounds, according to Physiopedia.

The phenomenon is getting increasingly common. And it’s not hard to see why. According to Spine-Health, a recent IDC study revealed that 79% of people between 18 and 44 years of age carry their cell phones with them nearly all the time. The more shocking finding is that only 2 hours of these individuals’ lives are spent without a cell phone!

The Danger of Long Term Damage

While this condition is pretty rampant among adults all over the developed world and even in developing countries where mobile phone usage is rising astronomically, children face a greater danger. Kids are exposed to mobile phones and tablets at a very young age, and this constant bending to watch videos or text friends could result in permanent cervical spine damage causing neck pain all through the child’s life. In adults, the practice can cause long term damage. In fact, left unchecked, text neck could cause breathing trouble, arthritis, disc degenerationor compression, and muscle damage.


So what exactly are the symptoms of text neck? When should you really suspect that your bonding with your mobile phone has taken a toll on your neck? The symptoms to look out for are:

  • Pain in the upper back – this could be just a nagging, chronic pain or a sharp pain
  • You could even have muscle spasms
  • Symptoms in the shoulder could be pain and feeling of tightness
  • Muscle spasms could affect the shoulders too
  • Sometimes a cervical nerve could get pinched, which could cause not just pain but also other neurological symptoms extending all the way to the arm and the hand
  • Other symptoms include headache, caused by the tightness of the sub-occipital muscle. The headache could be constant or intermittent and could increase while bending your neck for using your mobile phone or even looking down at the computer screen.

Among these, the symptoms vary between individuals and the stress their necks have been subjected to. You may not experience all these symptoms.

Treatment Options

Now you can obviously prevent these symptoms from striking you by limiting your use of mobile devices and maintaining the right posture while you are using them. But we’ll talk about that later. What if you already have symptoms resembling text neck? How can you get it treated? Multispecialty healthcare centers offeringneck pain treatment have a range of options to treat text neck. The goal of the treatment would be to reduce the tension in your neck muscles and thereby alleviate the pain. Treatment plans typically include:

  • Pain medications
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Neck stabilization and posture correction exercises
  • Joint mobilizations
  • Soft tissue massage, along with taping
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
  • Spinal manipulation
  • Physical therapy
  • Rest as required

The pain management doctor will analyze your pain, postural concerns, structures of your neck, and other considerations to develop a customized treatment plan for you.

Preventing Text Neck

As always, prevention is better than cure. So if you aren’t suffering from text neck yet or are in the early stages of this condition, or have just been treated for it, some preventive techniques could go a long way in making your neck and spine healthier.

  • The first preventive step you can take is to limit your use of mobile phones, tablets, Kindle or any other handheld devices. That also applies to your use of the desktop or laptop.
  • When you use your device, make sure you take adequate breaks in between rather than continuing in one full stretch.
  • Ensure that you maintain the right posture. Always keep your mobile phone, laptop, tablet and even TV at the level of your eye, so that you look at it straight without having to bend your head down and straining your neck.
  • At work, ensure proper positioning of the computer monitor.
  • While holding your mobile phone at the right eye level, make sure you don’t keep repeating movements such as typing or even swiping.
  • Avoid holding heavy objects or even your handheld devices in just one hand for a long time.

Advanced centers in NYC offering rehabilitation services for neck and shoulder pain offer customized treatment including exercise programs to maximize strength, range of motion, flexibility, mobility, and endurance.

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