The Consequences of “Text Neck”

text neck

A guest post written by Drs. Matt & Jessica Thompson

text neckWith the proliferation of smartphones, Text Neck is quickly becoming an epidemic in modern society. Text Neck refers to the neck pain one experiences after prolonged use of a smartphone, tablet, or other device. While this pain might appear to be just a minor nuisance, over time it can lead to serious consequences.

The body enjoys having a natural spinal curve, which is achieved when the head is in the neutral position. The average human head weighs about 12 pounds; when looking down 15 degrees the weight carried by the neck increases to 20 pounds. Looking down 30 degrees translates to 40 pounds, and at 45 degrees (the most common texting position) the head weighs around 50-60 pounds. Imagine spending all day with five or six ten-pound weights around your neck and all that texting suddenly doesn’t sound so appealing. Recent research suggests that the average smartphone user spends between 2 and 4 hours looking down each day — that’s an average of 700-1400 hours of excess stress on the spine, which reduces, and in extreme cases, reverses the spinal curves!

Don’t be fooled by the cutesy name either; Text Neck can have dire consequences if people aren’t careful. Repeated stress on the neck can actually start to change one’s body for the worse. These changes include pressure on the brainstem, spinal cord and nerve system, organ dysfunction, degenerative disks, reduced lung capacity, chronic joint pain, increased aging, and bone spur formations to name a few. These effects might not come out in younger users until a couple decades from now, assuming they don’t change their habits. Younger users sometimes express the damage done by Text Neck through a weakened immune system, attention problems, hyperactivity, irritability, excessive crying, and changes in sleep.

A recent news report provided a case study of a 13 year-old softball player who has already begun to experience the negative effects of Text Neck. She acknowledges that sometimes her lower back is not as flexible or arches. It’s worth it to note that she says she never thought it would happen to her since she is active, but let this be a warning: enough spinal stress can have negative effects on anyone!

However, despite these nasty effects, there are 5 very simple things everyone can do to save a life time of injury and dysfunction. First, take frequent breaks from looking at your device; every fifteen minutes is best. Second, take this time to balance your posture with exercises such as the Hummingbird. Standing, put your arms above your head, like you’re signaling a field goal. Lower your elbows to your side, level with your shoulders. Make circles forward or backward, of varying sizes, squeezing your shoulder blades together to engage the postural muscles for 30 seconds. Third, take a natural anti-inflammatory, such as a clean quality omega-3 fish oil. The constant strain caused by text neck on the ligaments, muscles, tendons, spinal nerves, brainstem and spinal cord creates chronic inflammation in those tissues. Omega-3 fish oil will reduce swelling and kickstart the healing process. Fourth, see a Chiropractor who is trained to address the natural spinal curves. Text neck, and other poor postures, reduce the natural spinal curves, stretching and putting pressure on the brainstem, spinal cord and nerve system. Specific & scientific chiropractic adjustment protocols can restore the natural curves, taking pressure off these vital structures. Fifth, use a cervical traction kit daily for your “homework”. These portable, at-home devices are used in conjunction with corrective chiropractic care to retrain the curve in the neck that has been damaged by Text Neck.

While these measures may seem bothersome and unnecessary, they will be saving you from potential disaster in the future! The biggest spinal curve improvement we’ve seen in our office is from a (-) 23 degree curve to an ideal (+) 43 degrees in a 27 year old female. Along the way, she was able to stop taking 7 medications for chronic pain and fibromyalgia, ski and hike again, and start her own business.


Although Dr. Matt & Dr. Jessica Thompson, of 100% Chiropractic in Highlands Ranch, CO, come from a line of Chiropractors, boasting 60 total, their true passion for health comes from the life-changes experiences they’ve witnessed with their patients. After meeting, getting married, and having their first of two sons at Life University, they practiced in MI with family for five years before moving to Colorado in 2012 to start the practice of their dreams. Dr. Matt & Dr. Jessica specialize in pediatric and family wellness. Visit them at:
www.100percentchiropractic.com

Did You Say Something, Mom?

Dear Mr. Dad: I hate to admit it, but my children won’t listen to me—especially when I ask them to help around the house. As a result I end up doing everything myself. The other day, I asked them to help me wash the car, which was filthy. I waited, asked again, and nothing. So I went outside and did it myself. A few weeks before, I told them to take the dog for a walk, they ignored me and the dog ended up pooping on the carpet (you gave this as an example a few months ago—I can’t believe it actually happened), so I had to clean it up. I’ve tried giving them more warnings and have even threated to take away some of their privileges, but they just say things like, “Why should we wash the car? It’s not ours” or “He’s your dog—you’re the one who adopted him.” I’m getting angrier and angrier at them. Something has to change, but what?

A: You have every right to be angry, but you should direct that anger toward yourself. In a word, what needs to change is you. Or, more accurately, the way you allow your kids to treat you. By giving them endless warnings, making empty threats, and then doing yourself what you asked them to do, you’ve taught them several important lessons: (a) They don’t need to respect you, (b) If they ignore you long enough, you’ll eventually give up, (c) it’s okay to not be a team player.
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Ask More from Your Kids and Do Less for Them

Emma Jenner, author of Keep Calm and Parent On.
Topic: Raising children by asking more from then and doing less for them.
Issues:
Manners and respect; boundaries and consequences; scheduling and routines; communication; self-esteem; trusting your instincts; quality time.

Conquer Your Stress + Keep Calm and Parent On

Doni Wilson, author of The Stress Remedy.
Topic: Master your body’s synergy and optimize your health.
Issues:
How to analyze the sources of your stress and determine how your body has been affected; understanding synergy; how imbalances create weight gain, cholesterol problems, and more; leaky gut and how it could be compromising your entire system.



Emma Jenner, author of Keep Calm and Parent On.
Topic: Raising children by asking more from then and doing less for them.
Issues:
Manners and respect; boundaries and consequences; scheduling and routines; communication; self-esteem; trusting your instincts; quality time.

Whose Kids Are These, Anyway?

Dear Mr. Dad: My son has two young children and a few years ago married a woman who has two children of her own. My son and his wife are having some financial troubles and my wife and I have volunteered to help them out with babysitting whenever they need it, which is quite often. My son’s children are pretty well-behaved when they come to my house. They help set and clear the table, say “please” and “thank you,” participate in mealtime conversations, and so on. They’re not perfect, but who is? My daughter-in-law’s kids are a different story. They’re rude, disrespectful, refuse to help out, criticize the food we prepare for them, and generally act like they’re living in a hotel. It’s gotten so bad that I’m about to tell my daughter-in-law that her children are no longer welcome in my house, but I’m afraid that might end up hurting my son’s marriage. His wife truly believes her children can do no wrong. What should we do?

A: Ah, welcome to the wonderful world of grandparenting in the age of blended families. You’re absolutely right to worry about throwing a wrench into your son’s marriage. But you also need to be concerned about how his stepchildren’s behavior might affect your relationship with him. There’s also a serious risk that as your biological grandchildren see what their stepsiblings get away with, they’ll start imitating them. So you’ve got to put an end to this problem right away. Unfortunately, no single approach will work every time, so here are a number of strategies that will allow you to attack this problem from several angles at once.

  • Do NOT talk directly to your daughter-in-law, at least not alone. From your description, she’ll just get defensive and will end up painting you as the bad guy. That will put your son in the awful position of being in the middle between you and his wife.
  • Treat all four children the same. If anything you do comes even remotely close to favoritism, again, you’ll be branded as the bad guy.
  • Talk directly to all four kids at once. Tell them—without singling anyone out—that there are some behaviors going on that are simply not acceptable and that if things don’t change in a hurry, you’ll make a report to their parents.
  • Call a family meeting; you, your wife, son, daughter-in-law, and all four kids. Tell them that you have certain rules in your house and that rude, disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated. Ask the kids to create consequences (don’t use the word “punishment”) for breaking the rules. Chances are they’ll come up with things that are harsher than anything you would have. The added bonus is that when they break the rules they won’t be able to gripe about the punishment.
  • Talk with your son and his wife. Tell them that you often have trouble with the kids and that you need their help establishing some rules. Be very careful that you don’t single out your daughter-in-laws kids. It’s critical that she and your son support you by telling the kids that when they’re in your house, they play by your rules. And that violating those rules will result in serious consequences. This is critical. The kids have to hear from their own parents that you’re the supreme authority in your home.
  • This one is hard but it has to be done. Tell your son and daughter-in-law that if the behavior doesn’t stop, they will have to make other childcare arrangements.

Hey, Are You Spanking My Child?

Dear Mr. Dad: My mom watches my 3-year-old son while I work part-time. I appreciate her help but it bothers me that she spanks him when he misbehaves or disobeys. I’ve been meaning to speak with her about this, but have been holding off because I can’t afford to hire a babysitter and I don’t want to antagonize my mom. What do you suggest?

A: Boy, that’s a tough one. On one hand, it’s comforting—not to mention more convenient and less expensive—to have your son cared for by a loving relative while you’re at work. On the other, if you and your mom can’t reach an agreement on how to discipline your child, you’ve got a real problem—regardless of the financial savings or the convenience factor.
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