San Francisco Patients Ask: What is Text Neck Syndrome?

Americans now spend an average of seven hours per day looking at a screen, and more than three and a half hours of that is on a mobile device. With the world of technology at our fingertips and engagement with others just a text away, it’s important to pay attention to the posture we practice while utilizing our favorite gadgets. Hovering over your laptop, iPad, or mobile device can lead to text neck syndrome, a repetitive stress injury to the neck that is caused by frequent forward head flexion. If left untreated, text neck syndrome can lead to spinal misalignments and several other ailments.

Symptoms of Text Neck Syndrome

It’s easy to assume that the main cause of text neck syndrome is texting on your phone; however, it can also be caused by hunching over your laptop at work for hours on end or by improper gaming posture. For every inch your head posture moves forward, the weight of your head is doubled, causing a lot of stress on your neck and shoulder muscles, the supporting ligaments, and the overall curvature of your cervical spine. How do you know if you are suffering from text neck syndrome? Be aware of the following symptoms:

  • Achy or lingering pain in the neck and shoulders
  • Stiffness in the shoulders and neck
  • Decreased range of motion in the head, neck, and arms
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Nerve pain (tingling or numbness) in the upper limbs
  • Reduced balance
  • Eye blurriness
  • Decreased hand-eye coordination

Current research shows text neck syndrome aka forward head posture:

  • Reduces blood circulation to the brain
  • Overloads autonomic nervous system
  • Increases the stress response “fight or flight” signals
  • Inhibits sensory-motor control
  • Slows the digestive system
  • Impairs cognitive function
  • Misaligns spinal curvature (leading to lose of neck curve and hyperkyphosis “hunching”)

No matter how much time you spend in front of your computer or on your mobile device, it’s important to be aware of your posture. If text neck syndrome is left untreated, your body’s core foundation can begin to crumble. This can have a ripple effect on your vertebrae, your spine, and your overall short- and long-term health.

Changes in pressure on the cervical spine with different head positions.

Treatments for Text Neck Syndrome

If you find yourself suffering from text neck syndrome, prevention and restoration through a combination of chiropractic care and physical therapy is your best approach to solving the problem. Treatments necessary to conquer text or tech neck.

  • Chiropractic adjustments, which alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and improve range of motion and mobility
  • Corrective chiropractic care, which addresses forward head posture, works to restore your spine to its natural curvature, and corrects any spinal misalignment that contributes to the above symptoms of text neck syndrome. A chiropractor practicing corrective care must include the following therapies:
  • Corrective postural exercises: Targeted at reducing forward head posture and neck curvature by strengthening the correct core musculature. Hint: Chin tucks worses this condition in 75% of people (link to common postural exercise go wrong)
  • Neck traction: The ligaments that hold your neck in a good position will adapt to whatever you do day in and day out, that includes becoming rigid in forward head posture. The only known treatment to restore normal ligament flexibility is extension traction.
  • Neuro-muscular reeducation: You can’t get away from your screens and they will train your default posture into the forward head posture position. On top of strengthening the muscles that hold your head up, restore normal curvature with traction, this re-training resets your unconscious posture to true head over shoulders neutral.

If you are experiencing text neck syndrome, it’s important to note the chiropractic adjustments and postural exercises must be paired with the spinal traction to reverse forward head posture. Once you have reset to good posture and normal spinal curvature alignment, practicing prevention is a great next step to keep future pain and discomfort at bay.

Prevention Techniques

Proper vs. improper posture for working at a computer.

To avoid text neck syndrome, it’s important to practice the following prevention techniques. By being aware of your screen time, posture, and environment, you can prevent minor or even serious injuries to your neck and spine.

  • Raise the phone and monitor: Move the phone (and other devices) closer to eye level so the head does not have to be tilted forward. Get off your laptop and on to a good ergo setup as much as possible
  • Take frequent breaks: Spend some time away from the phone. You can use an alarm or app to set automatic reminders to take breaks from handheld devices, laptops, or other electronics that contribute to forward head posture.
  • Change position: Good posture keeps the body aligned in a neutral position and one of the best ways to do so it to change from sitting to standing frequently. When you alter your position frequently it reduces the strain on the ligaments and keeps your posture “fresh”.
  • Stretch and exercise regularly: Engage in exercises and stretches that strengthen your core to support your spine and muscles.

The more you practice these prevention techniques, the less likely you are to revert to text neck posture. If you are feeling discomfort and pain due to forward head posture (text neck syndrome), seek a chiropractor that specializes in Chiropractic BioPhysics®. Combined with the above techniques, this type of corrective care will help you get your spine back to its optimal health.

Combating Text Next Syndrome with Chiropractic BioPhysics®

There are many ways to ease pain and discomfort from text neck syndrome; however, the best way to address the issue is to get to the root cause of the pain. Visiting a chiropractor that utilizes the Chiropractic BioPhysics® technique allows you to get to the core of your symptoms and create a treatment plan that works for you.

At PostureWorks, we develop customized plans that include spinal remodeling traction methods that work to rid the spine and joints of misalignments and postural exercises to help the body hold its optimal, aligned posture throughout the day. We also provide neuro-muscular reeducation to help good posture become your body’s new default setting so that you maintain any chiropractic adjustment benefits you receive.

Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function while eliminating the source of pain and circulatory and nervous dysfunction. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive. Contact us today to schedule your appointment or to learn more about text neck syndrome.

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