A guest post written by Drs. Matt & Jessica Thompson
With 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: