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  • Writer's pictureDr. Brandon

6 Changes You Can Do to Fix Text Neck

Are you suffering from neck pain, headaches, or dizziness? Have you ever wondered if your phone or tablet could be to blame? Are you concerned that text neck might be ruining your posture? Neck pain used to be more of a problem in people 40+ but now more and more people in their teens, 20’s, and 30’s are suffering from arthritis, signs of degeneration, and debilitating pain. But Why? While easily treatable, text neck syndrome has been on the rise for the last 15 years. Jump to 6 changes you can make to fix text neck

What causes text neck?

Neck pain from reading has been around as long as books, scrolls, and clay tablets have been around(so about 5000 years!). It was even described in monks from the middle ages who copied books by hand and had their necks in the same position as we do today with our cell phones. Does the way I hold my phone cause text neck? More often than not, yes, our position that we hold our phones or tablets is directly responsible for the rise of text neck syndrome. Here’s why- in the infographic below, you can see than when your head is in the proper posture, the joints at the bottom of your neck are supporting about 8-10 pounds of force. Now, when our heads are tilted forward by about 30 degrees, that force then jumps to 30 pounds and when tilted even further(like if we are looking at a tablet or phone at about waist height) it goes up to 60 pounds.

Most of this is borne by the joints at the bottom of the neck. But it is not just the angle that we hold our phone but also how long we do it. Many people report that they spend 6+ hours a day on their devices which comes out to about 2500 hours per year in this position. NO wonder that it is starting to cause debilitating neck pain in younger people. This causes any number of symptoms that are often found in older people with neck pain.

What are the symptoms of Text Neck Syndrome?

Text neck syndrome has several symptoms that overlap with several other conditions including pinched nerves in the neck, headaches including cervicogenic headaches, tension headaches, migraines, neck arthritis, dizziness, bulging discs and degenerative disc disease. In addition, eye strain, dry eyes, TMJ, TMD, or temporomandibular joint dysfunction, jaw pain, difficulty turning your head or looking over your shoulder, and even shoulder and upper back pain, trigger points in the neck and shoulders as well as numbness and tingling to the arms and hands can be caused by text neck. So how can you tell if your neck pain is caused by text neck syndrome? For some, their neck pain stays with them throughout their day and even disrupts sleep while for others their neck pain increases as the day goes on. For many, a simple posture break often brings relief while others can’t find a position that is comfortable. These symptoms usually get worse throughout the day(especially the longer you are on your device) and can radiate over your head as in a headache or radiate down your arm as in a pinched nerve. They can be just on one side of your neck, head, or arm, or can impact both sides(though you often find one side is worse than the other).

How long does it take for text neck to go away?

For some, simple posture and device use changes fix text neck almost immediately. For others, especially for those with chronic pain, loose joints(especially dancers and gymnasts) it can take upwards of 6-12 weeks to notice a change with just posture and device use changes. Often, many try rest, ice, or heat which usually only mask the pain or make it bearable for a few hours while not actually fixing the cause of the pain. In fact, resting an injury almost never works and the next time you try to be active or even do work around the house, it flares.

6 Changes you can make to fix text neck

  1. Take a posture break. For many, just getting up and taking 5 minutes an hour is enough to ease tension in your neck, reset your posture, and begin to get your postural muscles back to doing their job. Plus this burns more calories and often gets you closer to the recommended 150 minutes of activity per week.

  2. Hydrate. I often have patients try to drain a water bottle regularly so even if they don’t remember to take a posture break, they won’t ignore a pee break(which then gets them up and moving) How do you know if you are hydrated? Look at the stream-if it is clear to light yellow(champagne colored), then you are hydrated. If it is darker, then you’re not. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to hydrate, by then you are already dehydrated. In addition to forcing a posture break, being hydrated often helps reduce pain and inflammation.

  3. Get active: Often when we sit for long periods of time, our posture muscles become stretched out and weak and unable to support us putting all of the stress on our joints which then irritates them. If you only have time to focus on one thing, I recommend strengthening your back muscles including the muscles around your shoulder blade with pull-downs and rows and for your spine like bridges and reverse planks.

  4. Can’t get away from your desk? Try these 3 stretches including a gentle chin tuck, neck extension, and upper back extension

  5. Ease tight muscles using a mobility ball or theracane. Targeting your upper trapezius(or traps), rhomboids, and neck muscles with a mobility ball or theracane will often get you a good amount of relief. Unfortunately, this relief doesn’t always last without doing the other 4 things listed above and often those knots or trigger points come back(because massage only targets a symptom, not the cause) Want to learn more ways to ease neck pain and headaches? Download our free e-book!

  6. See a physio. Every day we see people who have tried to solve text neck, neck pain, or headaches all on their own, often doing stretches that were doing more harm than good or hoping and praying that just a little more rest would solve the problem or having to live on biofreeze, muscle rub, or multiple hot showers just to ease the tension a little bit. Have you been dealing with neck pain with no success? Would you like to have one of our neck pain experts take a look, all for free? Often we find that when we make some of the changes, like improving our posture, getting better pillows or mattresses, or having a better office set-up that we can reduce the number or severity of the neck pain but they don’t completely go away. Why? Often because some of the underlying causes of the neck pain and neck pain remain untreated. Often our nervous system becomes so sensitive that these fixes only partly calm down our nerves, ease our stiff necks or loosen tight muscles. Sometimes we try stretches or exercises that only aggravate our spine, muscles, or pinch nerves that then trigger more pain. Sometimes there are other reasons why our neck is causing the headaches. Often there are other natural solutions to fix text neck. That’s why we offer free consultations to get to the root cause of your suffering.

During one of our free consultations, the Total Body Diagnostic, we offer expert advice about the worry and frustration of life-changing aches and pains – for FREE, in under 30 minutes.

If this article describes your story and you are looking for some help with neck pain or headaches, we offer FREE consultations, which give you the opportunity to come in and meet us and see for yourself how we can help you.

Here are just a few of the things you will learn in one of our free consultation:

  • What is the underlying cause of your pain? (hopefully nothing too serious!)

  • Roughly, how long will it take to fix the problem?

  • What to do to help – which doesn’t include painkillers, resting or surgery etc.

  • What other, natural, drug free methods are there to speed up recovery alongside treatment?

Our consultations are great for anyone that may be “unsure” if physio is right for them, and they give you the opportunity to ask questions and see for yourself if we can help you.

If you’d like one of our limited free consultation sessions, please click here to request your Total Body Diagnostic or CALL us on 850-765-2779 to make a no-obligation enquiry.

About the author

Brandon Alkire, DPT, CSCS, FMS, Cert. DN

Doctor of Physical Therapy and Strength Coach

Dr. Brandon is the owner and a Physio at Body Mechanix Physiotherapy and Fitness. Four of his favorite people call him daddy while he's been married to his other favorite person for over 18 years. He enjoys teaching martial arts and is a Mestrando in Capoeira while in the mornings, he can be found working out with the guys in F3 around town.

He's the author of 4 pain relief guides for neck, low back, shoulder, and knees and the lead contributor to the Active Tallahassee Blog.


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