There is a great chance that you are reading this very blog in an awful position! Text neck, laptop neck or electronic neck has gotten much more prevalent over the last fifteen years. Text neck is typically a position of a hunched-over posture, shoulders rounded forward, thoracic spine curled over and the neck and head looking down at a screen. Although technology has improved our lives overall, it still comes with potential problems to our health if not used correctly. The repetitive motion of looking down at a screen day after day causes intense repetitive stress through the cervical and thoracic spine.
Cell phone use is typically more prevalent in younger populations which can cause permanent changes to the spine, musculature, and soft tissue of growing children. I have seen first-hand that most x-rays I take of people under the age of 30 in my office have a degree of text neck. Once these changes are made to a growing spine, the repercussions are often long-lasting. Text neck can sneak up on you. Most people don’t realize or don’t have any symptoms until the changes become more severe.
- muscle spasms
- neck pain
- upper back pain
- feeling of stiffness
- pain while sleeping
- forward rounded posture
- sloped shoulders
Once the text neck has occurred, the cervical and thoracic spine are pushed into an unnatural resting position. The vertebrae can no longer function as they are designed and the bones can actually start to morph and reshape themselves to create more stability in the spine. This undoubtedly leads to much earlier onset of arthritic conditions and degeneration of the spinal discs.
How can chiropractors help?
X-rays can be taken to properly diagnose the dysfunction of the cervical and thoracic spine. Once it is known that the patient has “text neck”, a proper treatment plan and lifestyle interventions must be started and adhered to.
Spinal manipulations can improve the function of stuck vertebrae and allow proper function of the nervous system. Intersegmental spinal decompression therapy is also a pivotal aspect of the treatment plan to lengthen the space between vertebrae and hydrate the severely degenerated vertebral discs.
Lifestyle changes such as reinforcement of proper positioning when using phones or laptops must be realized. The screen must be eye level with the patient when using their laptop or computer. Cell phones must be brought to the face, not the other way around. These habits are pivotal to implement right away and become second nature.
Do not let text neck dictate your spinal health!