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Is Text Neck Real?

Do you work a desk job? Are you always on your phone? The Fact of the matter is most of us are spending too much time hunched over our smartphones or computers each and every day. As a result many of us are familiar with the discomfort it can cause. This new age issue is being called “text neck” or “tech neck” and is only getting worse. Our kids are the most vulnerable to this condition as access to computers and phones is now easier and earlier than ever before. In this blog, we'll explore what tech neck is, how it can cause pain, what are the symptoms, if it can be reversed and how to avoid it.

Is tech neck real?

Yes, tech neck is a real condition. It's a type of repetitive strain injury that can occur when you spend too much time looking down at your phone, tablet, or computer. A more formal diagnosis for this condition is called upper cross syndrome. Upper cross syndrome/tech neck is caused by prolonged poor posture resulting in tight muscles in the upper back and chest with weak muscles in the front of the neck and mid back. This forms a cross pattern, as the name would suggest. With time this imbalance can cause strained muscles and misaligned joints, leading to discomfort and ultimately pain. These issues could progress even further creating prolonged postural issues. Most commonly a hunched back and forward head posture can develop. The longer we stare at our devices our heads begin to creep forward and down causing the apparent weight of our heads to increase. It's like carrying a heavy box close to your body as opposed to away from your body. The closer the object is the easier and more stable you will feel carrying it. Same with your head, you want it to be in its most natural and neutral position which is straight above and between your shoulders.Proper box lifting technique

What are the symptoms of tech neck?

Although neck pain is the most common complaint of tech neck there are several other symptoms related to the condition. These symptoms include muscle spasms, muscle tightness, headaches, pain between the shoulder blades, numbness and tingling down the arms, jaw pain, rolled shoulders, hunched back, forward head posture and reduced mobility. In the most severe cases balance can be affected.

Can tech neck cause dizziness?

Tech neck is not a direct cause of dizziness. However, there is a correlation between dizziness and neck dysfunction. When the neck muscles and joints are affected, as they are with tech neck, this can cause dizziness as a symptom. Generally, if you are experiencing dizziness or vertigo along with neck pain, it's important to see a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying conditions.

Can tech neck be treated or even reversed?

The impact of Text Neck on your bodyYes… and no it depends on the severity of the tech neck. With chronic tech neck spanning several years symptoms can remain permanent. The biggest concerns include chronic tightness, forward head posture and a hunchback. Symptoms of pain, discomfort, headaches, numbness and tingling usually better outcomes. The earlier a problem is detected the higher likelihood you can reverse the effects of tech neck. A good exercise program, proper work desk set up and postural awareness can help a lot. Further healthcare providers like chiropractors, massage therapists, physiotherapists and acupuncturists can be a big help in treating tech neck. A chiropractor, like myself, would focus on adjusting the spine in the mid, upper back and neck to create proper joint alignment, muscle engagement and nervous system flow. We’d may also provide other treatments like muscle release techniques or ART, dry needling/acupuncture, trigger point therapy, instrument assisted soft tissue massage or Graston, Laser therapy and shockwave therapy. Massage therapists could help release soft tissues like muscles, tendons and ligaments allowing for better mobility and comfort. Physiotherapists can provide specific and customized exercise programs for your specific case. Further they can use a variety of modalities to help that include ultrasound therapy, shockwave therapy, laser therapy, electrostimulation/TENS etc. Acupuncturists can stimulate traditional Chinese points called meridians or muscle trigger points with needles. prevention is the best form of treatment for tech neck. The first step is to take a break from looking at your devices and start practicing better posture.

How can you avoid it?

There are several things you can do to help avoid tech neck:

  1. Take breaks: Regularly get up and stretch or walk every 20-30 minutes to avoid being stuck in a compromising position for too long. This can be at work, when watching a movie, playing games or even hanging out with friends. There are even apps/programs that can be setup to give you regular reminders to get up and moving.
  1. Adjust your posture: Like your mom has always said, sit up straight and bring your shoulder back. Did you know that an adult head weighs between 10-12 pounds but when bending down at a 45-degree angle, like when using a cellphone or laptop, this increases the amount of force on the neck by almost 50 pounds. Would you like to carry a 50 pound box for several hours at a time? I don’t think so, and neither does your neck. It is recommended that we hold our phone or tablet at eye level to prevent neck strain. Also when using a computer make sure the screen is at eye level, same when using a laptop. Consider using a sit/stand desk to encourage changing positions throughout your work shift. A proper work ergonomic assessment would be recommended to help as well.
  1. Exercise: Strengthening the muscles in your neck and upper back can help prevent tech neck. Consider doing exercises like chin tucks, shoulder blade squeezes, shoulder rolls, wall angels and full neck range of motions. Stretching is also a great way to loosen up commonly tight muscles related to tech neck. Some stretches you should try are the corner pec stretch, upper trap stretch, thread the needle, and cat/cow. Generally, strong and well functioning muscles will help hold your head in the proper position to avoid tech neck.
  1. Limit screen time: Paying attention to how much time you spend on your computer or phone is crucial. At work it may be hard to stay away from a screen but compensate by spending less time on your devices when not working. Leaving your phone outside of the bedroom at night is recommended to avoid using it before bed and first thing in the morning. For parents, try scheduled phone or computer time for you children of no more than 30 minutes a night. Even shutting down the WIFI at a certain time each day can help, this can be done fairly easily through your internet providers app.

In conclusion, tech neck is a real condition that can cause pain and discomfort in the neck and upper back. It can lead to bigger concerns such as headaches, numbness and tingling down the arms, a hunched back and even dizziness. Tech neck can be treated in most cases and reversed when caught early enough. By taking regular breaks, adjusting your posture, doing exercises to strengthen and stretch your muscles and limiting screen time, you can prevent tech neck. If you're experiencing tech neck or text neck It is best to consult a healthcare professional to treat it and give any tips and tricks to help.

Dr Anwar Hamdon Chiropractor Momentum Health Creekside

Written by Dr. Anwar Hamdon, Chiropractor DC

Dr. Anwar Hamdon graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in San Jose, California, in 2017. Before studying chiropractic, he completed a bachelor’s degree in health science at Mount Royal University in Calgary in 2013. Dr. Hamdon has been trained in Diversified, Activator, and Thompson chiropractic techniques.

Dr. Hamdon has a strong belief in chiropractic as being the best choice in achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Chiropractic has a widespread reach making it a great therapy of choice for several conditions such as neck, mid and lower back pain, headaches and migraines, rib pain, chronic pain, tennis elbow, sciatica, disc herniations, TMJ issues, postural strain and so much more. By optimizing your health potential, whether in sport, at work, or home, or to invest in your health, let chiropractic change your life.

When not in the office, Dr. Hamdon spends much of his time around his growing family with his wife and two little kids. Dr. Hamdon is a sports fanatic, just ask him about hockey or football and you’ll understand. His other interests include hiking and fishing, music, gaming and reality tv.

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