Do you notice stiffness or neck pain when you move your head? Are you prone to pressure headaches or upper back pain on a regular basis? Have you observed tightness or muscle spasms in your shoulders? All of these symptoms could be signs of text neck.
The New Repetitive Strain Injury
What is text neck? Text neck is the new repetitive strain injury (RSI) in today’s society. While carpal tunnel was the RSI of the 20th century, brought on by the invention of the typewriter, text neck is the RSI of the 21st century. It’s an evolution of the same problem caused by computers, and it stems from the overuse of tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices.
Text neck is caused by the frequent and repetitive bending motion of the neck, as the user hunches down to look at the screen of his or her device. While this motion has always been a common one for readers of books and newspapers, the widespread use of phones, tablets and other wireless devices causes it to occur more frequently and for longer periods of time.
What’s the problem with text neck? The issue with bending to look at your device is that it’s an unfamiliar motion that our bodies weren’t designed to do—we don’t look down at the ground when we walk, do we? It’s not part of our natural history. Any unfamiliar and repetitive motion is certain to strain our bodies and texting is no different!
Text Neck Symptoms
Text neck leads to different symptoms, depending on the body type of the user, their physical habits, and other factors. If you think you are suffering from text neck, it’s important to consult with a professional. Here is a list of common RSI symptoms for text neck:
- Tendonitis — If you’re using your thumb too much for texting, it can cause painful inflammation of the tendons in the fingers or wrist.
- Carpal Tunnel — Carpal tunnel syndrome is a medical condition caused by the pinching of the medial nerve in your wrist, leading to pain and numbness in your fingers.
- Shoulder Strain — If you are hunching or contracting your shoulders when you check your phone, this can result in muscles spasms, pain and tightness across the shoulders.
- Neck Pain — Stiff, sore or aching muscles in your neck are common signs of too much texting, as a result of the constant bending motion in this area.
- Headaches — Pressure headaches are a common side effect of text neck, which will often occur in conjunction with other symptoms.
- Arm Strain — Numbness in the arms is often the result of a pinched nerve in the neck, which can be caused by the repetitive strain of texting.
How We Help
At Dr. Lee’s Health & Wellness Centre, we will recommend a combination of DIY exercises, which we will explain and demonstrate in person, and treatments including chiropractic care, massage therapy and more.
In the meantime, here are a couple of tips for reducing issues with text neck:
- Remember to take a break. Sometimes it’s as simple as not looking at your phone for a few minutes. Relaxing in a posture that releases pressure on your neck (for example, lying down) can help too!
- Lift your device to eye level. It might be more work for your arms, but lifting your phone means you won’t have to bend your neck as much.
- Stretch periodically. If you are feeling stiff or sore, the right stretches can help. Ask Dr. Lee for advice on what to do!
- Get regular exercise. Workouts that involve the shoulders, back, arms and fingers can create a strong, flexible body, which is capable of handling extra stressors.
Do you have text neck? Contact Dr. Lee in Waterloo today to get a consultation.