Text neck is the term used to describe the neck pain and damage sustained from looking down at your phone, tablet, or other wireless device over a sustained period of time. When the head is tilted forward, increased pressure is placed on the cervical spine. Anterior head position or forward head posture can cause permanent damage and result in:
- back pain
- muscle damage
- nerve damage
- spinal disc herniation
- spinal disc compression
- decrease in spinal curve
- loss of lung volume capacity
- gastrointestinal problems
- onset of early arthritis
Tilting the head forward just 15 degrees places about 12 kilograms of pressure on the neck. This pressure increases to 18 kilograms at 30 degrees, 22 kilograms at 45 degrees, and 27 kilograms at 60 degrees. Damage caused by untreated text neck can be similar to repetitive strain injury.
Taking one of the injuries from above let’s examine how looking down at your phone can affect your cervical spine.Normally, the apex of the human spine that forms the neck should appear as a C-shaped curve when seen from a side angle. This C-shaped curve is necessary to disperse the weight and pressure being exerted onto the cervical vertebrae. Forward head posture undermines the function of the C-shaped curve by straightening the neck bones. As a result, the increased pressure being exerted onto the cervical vertebrae raises the likelihood of cervical disk herniation.
The first step to correcting this posture is to get an x-ray of your spine to find out whether you have some scoliosis or degenerative changes. If you are not in pain, you can stand or sit in the position you are normally in and have someone take a photo of your profile. A line from the ear to the floor should go through the shoulder and hip joints. If you fall forward, then you are at risk for the permanent damages outlined above.
Book an appointment with one of our trained therapists to have an assessment of the movements of the joints in your entire spine. Following this, manual therapy techniques are used to correct any locked joints and then more manual therapy techniques are used to address the muscles, ligaments and tendons of the spine to ensure that the adjustment holds.
Part of the treatment will involve assessing and modifying any necessary changes to your work environment together with a home programme that gives you control of what to do if you are feeling any tightness or tension.