There’s a diagnosis for the headaches, achy shoulders, and neck pain associated with spending your days hunched over your phone reading or texting — Text Neck. Beyond smartphone use, neck and back pain can come from gaming, emailing, tablet use, or spending long periods of time working at a computer.
Our necks are generally used to 10 to 12 pounds of pressure, from holding up your head. Bending your head to look at your mobile device held in your hands can put up to 60 pounds of pressure on your neck. Over time, the misalignment causes wear and tear on the structures of the neck.
Neck pain from texting is becoming an increasing problem for everyone in the family. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 8 to 18 year olds spend an average of seven and a half hours using “entertainment media” every day. Treatment for text neck pain for both young and old is important to prevent recurring problems down the road.
Symptoms and risks
Neck and back pain associated with smartphone use includes:
- Neck and upper back pain can range from temporary fatigue after use, to a chronic, nagging pain, to sharp and severe upper back muscle spasms.
- Shoulder pain and tightness that can be mild or sometimes results in painful shoulder muscle spasms.
- A pinched cervical nerve that can radiate pain down the arm and into the hand.
- The possibility of early onset of arthritis in the neck.
Prevention tips and tricks
There are things you can do to minimize the pain and risk associated with smartphone use.
- Hold your cell phone at eye level as much as possible.
- Position your laptops and tablets so that you don’t have to bend forward to use them.
- Take frequent breaks throughout the day. Set an alarm or timer that reminds you to get up and walk around every 20 to 30 minutes.
- At the office, make sure your computer monitor is positioned so that you are looking forward with your head squarely in line with your shoulders and spine. Consider a standing desk for better posture.
- Check proper posture and neck alignment by looking at your profile in a mirror. If you’re standing correctly, you should be able to draw a vertical line form your ear to your shoulder.
Stretching for neck pain relief
After sitting or looking at your phone, doing some simple stretches can help you realign your neck and spine to relieve stiffness.
Shoulder Extensions: Arch your neck and upper back backward, pulling your shoulders into alignment under your ears.
Neck Stretch: Sit comfortably with both feet on the floor and your shoulders and jaw relaxed. Look up at the ceiling. Relax and open your mouth and let your head fall back further. Close your mouth gently for a stretch in the front of your neck.
Extended Nod: Sit tall in a chair with your feet on the ground and chin parallel to the floor. Without tilting your head in any direction, draw your head and chin back, making a double chin. Keep your jaw relaxed. You will feel a stretch along the back of your neck. Imagine a string pulling upward on the top of your head and slowly elongate your neck. Hold for three deep breaths then release your chin forward.
Perform these stretches whenever you finish a session on your computer, tablet or smartphone.
Neck and back pain from smartphone use is not uncommon in today’s mobile-centric culture. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent and reduce neck and back pain from texting. The first step is becoming aware of your cell phone usage and posture. As a rule of thumb, keep your ears aligned with your shoulders and your shoulder blades tucked into your back. Limiting your smartphone use and taking frequent breaks from screen time to walk around will also reduce neck and back pain.
If you experience prolonged neck or back pain associated with electronic use, you should seek professional help. At Arizona Pain and Spine, our highly-trained and experienced pain specialists can provide safe and effective treatment solutions for Neck and other pain associated with smartphone use.
Call us at 480-986-7246 to make an appointment and start feeling relief from neck and back pain.