The Consequences of “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:

A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens

Joani Geltman, author of A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens.
Talking to your kids about sexting, drinking, drugs,and other things that freak you out.
Issues: What you need to understand about what your teen child is going through psychologically and physically; mistakes and assumptions parents often make about their teens; what parents of boys need to watch out for vs. parenting teen girls.

A Brief Guide to Teen Lingo

Dear Mr. Dad: My 12-year-old daughter recently had a slumber party with two friends from school. One of them left her phone. I texted my daughter so she could tell her friend, and two seconds later got this back: DO NOT READ ANYTHING ON THAT PHONE!!!!! Clearly she was trying to hide something, so I immediately opened the phone and started reading the texts—especially between this girl and my daughter. With all the abbreviations, I could hardly understand what they were talking about. But based on my daughter’s response, I’m worried. Should I be? And was I wrong to read those texts?

A: Yes and no. Your daughter’s screaming response could simply be a demand for privacy, which is something you should try to respect. However, her response seems so panicky that I think you were right to snoop. The fact that you couldn’t understand what you were reading doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything to worry about—your daughter and her friend could be having completely innocent conversations that you’re just not cool enough to understand (very few adults are). On the other hand, it could be exactly the opposite.
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Divorced? Better Stay Away from Social Media

Social media is being used for just about everything these days, from keeping up with friends and family and reporting breaking news, to getting insights into the inner workings of school shooters’ mind and vetting job applicants. Well, now we can add determining custody in divorce cases.
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Texting while Parenting? Almost as Bad as Texting while Driving.

A few weeks ago, I did a post on the dangers of texting while driving. Thousands of people are killed every year by distracted drivers (Research shows that using a cell phone while driving has about the same effect on  the driver’s  ability to focus and react as having a few beers).

But texters can do plenty of damage to themselves and others without getting behind the wheel. In fact, texting–or checking email or even talking on the phone–while doing just about anything else is dangerous.  According to Beth Ebel and her colleagues at the University of Washington, 30 percent of pedestrians are distracted in some way ( observed more than 1,000 pedestrians crossing busy streets at a variety of randomly chosen times. Thirty percent of pedestrians were distracted in some way–listening to music, texting or talking on the phone. How distracted were they? According to Ebel and her team, people whose head is buried in their phone cross the street more slowly than those without phones (about two seconds longer), are less likely to look left and right before stepping into the street, and are more likely to jaywalk. And the results can be horrific.

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Driven to Distraction—and Death

Dear Mr. Dad: I’m worried about my two teenagers. They both have a driver’s license, but even though we’ve talked about the dangers of texting while driving, I suspect they’re doing it anyway. They’re generally smart, responsible young people, but all it takes is one second. What can we do to keep them from making a mistake that could kill them—or someone else?

A: Given that more than 80 percent of teens use a cell phone while driving, you’re absolutely right to be concerned. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for all age groups from 3 to 33. In 2010, distracted drivers were responsible for 6,000 deaths in the US—a fifth of all fatalities. According to a recent study out of Virginia Tech, a driver who’s texting is 23.2 times more likely to be involved in a car accident than someone who either keeps her phone in her pocket or turns it over to a child in the back seat. By contrast, drunk drivers are only eight times more likely to get into accidents.

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