Text Neck: Is Your Smart Phone Causing Neck Pain?

Text Neck is the term that has been coined to repetitive stress injury to the neck caused by holding your head in a forward and downward position for extended periods of time. When holding your head in this position, excessive amounts of tension are created in the deep muscles of your neck and across the shoulders causing both acute (short-term) and chronic (on-going) neck pain. Chronic headaches have also been linked to this condition.

What causes text neck?

The increased prevalence of these pains is caused due to the increasing popularity and hours people spend on handheld devices such as smartphones, e-readers, and tablets. By spending so much time looking down and dropping your head forward the natural curvature of your neck becomes changed. Over time, the misalignment can strain muscles and cause wear and tear on the structures of the neck.

What are the symptoms associated with text neck?

When it comes to text neck, sufferers experience different symptoms. But advice should be sought if you suffer from any of the following:

  • Chronic headaches
  • Pain in the upper back area
  • Pain in the shoulder
  • An increased curvature of the spine

Can text neck be treated?

Although prevention is often preferred, text neck can be treated just like any other number of back and spinal conditions. A physiotherapist will have advice on how to reduce the tension within the neck muscles, reduce the pain within your neck and address the postures that aggravate your symptoms.

Whilst seeking treatment, it can be a good idea to limit the amount of time spent using your smartphone. Many of us rely on our devices, so it’s impossible to cut out use completely. But notifications and updates from social networks and websites can often wait until we get home. While the condition can be treated, we shouldn’t look to add to the damage already done.

There are many ways that you can help prevent text neck and stop the condition from worsening, this includes taking frequent breaks from your phone and laptop throughout the day. Along with holding your mobile phone at eye level as much as possible and positioning laptops and tablets so the screen is at eye level and you don’t need to bend your head forward or look down to view it.

It’s important for people of all ages to keep their spine healthy to maintain good posture in order to adapt to the strain texting places on your body. Avoid looking down with your head bent forward for extended periods throughout the day.

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The Author

Lewis Payne

Lewis graduated from The University of Nottingham in 2013 with a First Class Honours in Physiotherapy, worked as Sheffield F.C.’s first team Physiotherapist, and now runs a leading-edge private clinic in Sheffield. With over ten years of experience, he specialises in manual therapy, advanced technological treatments, and exercise-based approaches, focusing on spinal and joint conditions, sports injuries, and specifically complex spinal issues like disc pathology and scoliosis. Lewis leads in IDD Therapy, performing over 6000 treatments, offers MRI referrals and reviews, and employs a holistic treatment philosophy viewing the body as a Tensegrity structure. He excels in postural analysis, soft tissue release techniques, and prescribes biomechanical corrective exercises to enhance natural movement.