First, there was carpal tunnel syndrome, now “text neck” is the new tech-induced body condition. Text Neck Syndrome occurs when we are stuck in an unnatural posture of looking down for periods of time. This position leads to soreness in the neck and shoulders, tightness across the shoulders, and even chronic headaches. “The injuries from Text Neck Syndrome results from repetitive stress, “says Dallas Fort Worth Neurosurgeon Dr. Rebecca Stachniak – “having your head hung forward and looking down at your device for extended periods of time is not healthy.”
The more you flex your neck, the more weight it has to carry. For every inch forward your head hangs from correct posture- ears above shoulders- the weight of your head increases 100%. If you can remember from Jerry Maguire, we all learned the human head weighs 10 pounds, so imagine how much it begins to weigh as you lean your head forward to select that perfect emoji.
Once upon a time, kids’ heads would be hung to read books, textbooks, study, and take tests. But in the good old days, it would even out when we would then go outside and exercise. We would be balanced and wouldn’t spend the greatest amount time in a poor posture position while texting or using a mobile device.
The most common symptoms associated with Text Neck Syndrome are headaches and neck and shoulder pain. In younger adolescents, Text Neck can increase the curvature of the spine. Research has suggested this syndrome could lead to early onset arthritis or a decrease in lung capacity.
Symptoms of Text Neck Syndrome
- Neck pain and tightening
- Shoulder pain and tightening
- Chronic headaches
As with many health problems, if you do nothing, you will get worse. So, it’s important to implement steps to improve your posture, strengthen your neck, and create better habits.
- Take frequent breaks, look up and stretch your neck every 15 minutes
- Hold your device up near eye level
- Do posture strengthening exercises
Patients should seek medical attention if the above measures do not relieve the pain.
Dr. Rebeccca Stachniak is a board certified Neurological Spine Surgeon and Medical Director of the Brain & Spine Center of Texas. Dr. Stachniak is part of the faculty at Medtronic as a teaching physician, teaching other spine surgeons on techniques in spine surgery. Having authored many papers, posters, and presentations for major Neurosurgical and Spine related conferences, Dr. Stachniak is highly sought after and regarded around the world speaking at international conferences. Named Top10MD in 2016 – an honor only 1-in-3 doctors succeeds within the United States. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Stachniak, click on her profile or call her office at 972.943.9779.