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Text Neck / Tech Neck

Text Neck: How Texting Can Harm Your Spine and Skeleton

Years of poor posture while texting and being hunched over your tablet or mobile device can harm your spine more than you realize. Many people are unaware of how many hours they spend each day with their necks angled too far forward. While they text and check their mobile phone throughout the day, they move their heads and shoulders forward without even thinking about it. If a person spends enough time with their neck and shoulders hunched forward, it can become difficult and even painful to return their neck to a healthy, normal posture. If the neck isn’t given time to heal, a painful condition known as Text Neck (or Texter’s Neck) can occur.

Possible signs and symptoms of Text Neck

  • Neck pain

  • Neck stiffness

  • Muscle spasms in the neck

  • Decreased ability to rotate the neck to the left or right

  • Pain in the upper back between the shoulder blades

  • Discomfort when looking upward at the ceiling

  • Shoulder pain

  • Reoccurring Headaches

  • Burning or electric shock sensations in the neck or arms

  • Weakness in the arms or hands

  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or hands

  • Weakened grip strength (difficulty opening jars)

  • Loss of coordination in the hands (clumsiness or dropping objects)

  • Posture has permanently changed (neck and shoulders are too far forward)

  • Difficulty sleeping (the pillow begins to feel uncomfortable)


What causes Text Neck?

You have 7 vertebrae (neck bones) in the top part of your spine. When you angle your neck forward for prolonged periods, it causes the muscles of the neck to become tightened. It also can cause compression on the important nerves that exit the spinal cord and travel through the shoulders into the arms. In time, the shape of the spinal column can permanently change so that proper posture becomes impossible.

What happens if Text Neck goes untreated?

  • The shape of the spine can change

  • Nerve damage can occur

  • The discs between the bones of the spine can become compressed

  • The early onset of arthritis can occur

  • Neck and spine muscles can be damaged


Here is the good news. If caught early enough, the symptoms of Text Neck can completely disappear. But a person needs to be willing to prioritize their health and make a few changes in their life.

Suggested treatment for Text Neck

  • Limit the amount of time spent using mobile phones and handheld devices by taking breaks throughout the day

  • Position the electronic device higher so that it is closer to eye level

  • Stretch your neck and shoulders several times a day to relieve overworked muscles

  • Speak with a chiropractor about receiving neck adjustments to gently place the neck bones back into a proper alignment

  • If you sleep on your side, be careful not to trap your hand or arm beneath your head or pillow so that the nerves going from your neck to your arms can heal faster

  • Ask your chiropractor if a special pillow for your neck (cervical support pillow) may be useful at night

  • Don’t spend a lot of time spinning / cycling until your neck heals. Instead select a form of exercise that doesn’t cause your neck to angle forward.

  • Learn a couple simple yoga stretches that improve posture

  • Be mindful of your posture so that you become aware of when you may be causing harm to your neck

Woman with neck pain while texting
How To Prevent Text Neck

Fortunately Text Neck (also called Texter's Neck) doesn't occur overnight. It's caused by months and years of poor neck posture while using handheld devices.

Here are some suggestions to prevent Text Neck:

  • Keep the handheld device as close to eye level as possible

  • Begin paying attention to how much time you are spending with your neck leaning forward

  • Take breaks during the day when you don’t feel compelled to check your mobile device

  • When you aren’t using your phone, make sure that you spend enough time looking straight ahead to reinforce normal, healthy posture

  • Try not to text when you’re tired. This is probably when you’ll have the worst posture

  • If you have concerns, schedule a visit with your chiropractor to have your neck and posture assessed


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