The good news: We live in an era where modern medicine has given rise to a diverse range of innovative, effective, and non-invasive chronic pain management therapies explicitly designed to manage a multitude of neuropathic conditions.
The not-so-good-news: We also live in an era where modern lifestyles have given rise to an entirely new litany of common chronic and acute pathologies. Our obsession with technology, coupled with our increasingly sedentary daily routines, have promoted a significant surge in several disorders including sitting disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, eyestrain, and a myriad of lower back issues.
Steadily rising to the top of this list of physical impediments stemming from our poor daily habits? Text neck.
Text Neck Syndrome: What You Need to Know
Though not an official medical diagnosis, the term text neck is used to describe the repetitive stress injuries sustained from spending prolonged stretches bent over or looking down.
The posture itself certainly isn't new. Over the centuries, people have spent countless hours stooped over a wide range of creative endeavors including reading, drawing, and sewing. However, our relatively recent addiction to mobile devices has amplified the total number of hours entire populations spend hunched over while texting.
Some of the most prominent symptoms of text neck include:
- Upper Body Pain - While often marked by significant neck pain, text neck can also be characterized by shoulder and/or upper back discomfort. Some sufferers may endure an intense, concentrated throbbing in one specific spot, while others experience more of an overall soreness across a larger body region. Additionally, many people notice that the pain symptoms worsen when practicing the behavior that first triggered the problem (aka texting).
- Poor Posture - A continuous forward head posture can eventually weaken musculature in the neck, upper back, and chest. These deconditioned muscles make it challenging to sustain a healthy position naturally.
- Headaches - Even when practicing perfect posture, spending extended hours in front of a screen can promote an upswing in both eyestrain and headaches. Additionally, weakened neck muscles can spasm, radiating pain from the base of the neck all the way up into the head.
- Decreased Mobility - Text neck is often marked by reduced mobility throughout the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
- Cervical Misalignment - Spending countless hours staring down at an electronic device can potentially lead to cervical abnormalities as well as disc herniations.
- Compressed Nerves - Severe text neck cases can lead to irritated or compressed nerve roots due to changes in spinal configuration, resulting in cervical radiculopathy, a condition marked by shock-like pain throughout the upper body, arms, and/or hands.
- Balance Issues - Extended stretches spent in forward head posture can lead to the head's center of gravity migrating away from the body. This process can directly impact equilibrium control as well as muscle imbalances.
Modifying Daily Habits Can Help Relieve Text Neck Discomfort
Practicing prevention can help alleviate the ache and soreness associated with text neck. Some of the most effective methods to relieve symptoms may include:
- Elevate the Device - One of the best ways to reduce discomfort from hunching over? Stop hunching over as much as possible. Raise your smartphone or mobile device to keep the screen closer to your natural eye level, minimizing the amount of time you'll spend in forward head posture.
- Walk Away (Yes, Really) - Many people find it unfathomable to take a break from their phone; however, routine reprieves from your device can reduce strain throughout your entire upper body. If necessary, set an alarm to remind you when it's time to put the phone down. Also, when taking your technology break, it's important not to indulge in other typically poor-posture activities, like reading or knitting. Instead, opt for activities that encourage you to stand or sit with your shoulders pulled back naturally and your body neutrally aligned.
- Stretch Regularly - Consistent stretching and arching the upper back can help reduce muscle pain and discomfort associated from being bent over your mobile device.
- Exercise - Building strength and flexibility in your back, neck, and shoulders can increase stress tolerance and physical endurance, potentially offsetting strain from prolonged texting.
Are You Suffering From Chronic Neck Pain?
At Florida Pain Relief Centers, we recognize that untreated chronic pain can eventually lead to significant, potentially permanent, cervical, spinal, and/or nerve damage. Our team of licensed, certified, and experienced pain management physicians develops customized, effective treatment therapies to help patients suffering from a wide range of cervical stress injuries reclaim their health and overall quality of life. Contact us today to hear more about our innovative practice approach to managing a multitude of chronic and acute pain conditions.