Whether you’re making calls all day or scrolling through social media while standing in line at the grocery store, your phone usage could be contributing to your chronic neck pain. Poor phone usage can put a great deal of strain on your neck, whether you’re cradling the phone against your shoulder while you talk or you’re looking down at your text messages. Here’s what you should know about your phone habits and how you can protect your neck from them.
What Is Text Neck?
This overuse syndrome is becoming so common that doctors have given it a name—text neck. When you’re looking down at your phone for extended periods of time, such as while surfing the web, scrolling through social media, or texting, your head is tilted forward at an unnatural angle. This angle causes the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your neck to struggle as they hold your head up. Your neck is capable of holding up your head, which weighs between 10 and 12 pounds. When the head is tipped forward at a 60-degree angle, such as while looking down at your phone, the pressure on your neck is closer to 60 pounds of force.
Text neck isn’t an uncommon syndrome, but it can lead to premature spinal degeneration. Previously this type of degeneration was observed most frequently in older adults or those who worked in an occupation that required the head to be bent forward for extended periods of time, such as dentistry and welding. It’s an alarming trend for many doctors to see younger and younger patients displaying signs of spinal stress and degeneration.
How to Combat Phone-Related Neck Pain
In our modern lifestyles, it’s practically impossible to avoid using a phone at some point during the day. Here are some tips to reduce the impact of your phone use:
- Avoid cradling the receiver between your cheek and shoulder. Instead, use a headset, Bluetooth earpiece, or another hands-free device while you talk on the phone.
- While looking at your phone raise the phone higher. This reduces the angle that your head is being held at while reading your screed, and can decrease the pressure on your neck. Holding the phone at eye level is best.
- Take breaks when you can. Put the phone down for a few minutes and get moving, or at least spend a few minutes with your head raised to a neutral position.
- Practice good posture by standing or sitting up straight with the shoulders pulled down and back. This keeps your supportive muscles engaged and your body in a neutral position
- Stretch and arch your neck and upper back gently to reverse the strain of looking down. Try to spend the time it takes to breathe a few breaths looking up and leaning slightly back every 30 minutes.
- Build your flexibility and strength to make it easier for your neck to handle the stress.
- Grow your posture-awareness by practicing a form of exercise that focuses on how you move and position your body. These include ballet, yoga, Pilates, and tai chi.
Awareness of some of the causes of neck pain can help reduce the pain you feel, but it may not fully address your chronic neck pain. If you struggle to function because of your pain, Pain Medicine Group is here to help. Our Fort Meyerspain management clinic offers a variety of services to treat your pain and get you on the road to recovery. Schedule your first appointment today to learn more about our personalized treatment options.
Contact our offices by calling (888) 832-3597.