Text Neck: the Health Epidemic of the Tech Era

Did you know that looking down at your phone while texting can cause dramatic health effects to your body? “Text Neck” is the condition of looking down at your phone for prolonged periods of time completely mindless of your postural presentation. We have all seen it… and we are all likely guilty of it. However, many of us didn’t realize that simply looking down at our phones is associated with headaches, neck pain, respiration inefficiencies, and even jaw pain.

Why think about posture when you are thinking about texting or checking social media? Because you can’t afford not to; your health is on the line.

With the era of technology come many conveniences. We are globally connected via small devices that fit in our pockets. Apps replace personal assistants, cameras are extinct, and we walk around with 1000 songs in our pockets. And yet, as smart phones get smarter, our posture gets weaker. The biologic sustainability of human beings is declining at the speed of technology.

By looking down to check your phone, and flexing the neck anteriorly, the amount of pressure on the cervical spine multiplies. The neck supports the head while protecting the integrity of the spinal cord. With optimal postural presentation, the cervical spine maintains an anterior lordotic curve to support the weight of the head, which on average weighs about 10 pounds. As the neck flexes forward, the cervical curve is diminished and the weight of the head dramatically increases.

Hansraj (2015) evaluated the amount of pressure on the cervical spine when the neck is bent forward at varying degrees. He concluded that as the head tilts anteriorly by 15 degrees, the weight of the head increases from 10-12 pounds to 27 pounds. As the head tilts forward by 30 degrees the head weight is increased to 40 pounds, at 45 degrees of tilt the head weighs 49 pounds, and at a forward tilt of 60 degrees the weight of the head is 60 pounds.

This is a tremendous amount of unnecessary pressure to the posture system that has become the new societal norm. According to Hansraj (2015), people spend an average of 2-4 hours per day on their cell phone with significant forward head posture. Hansraj (2015) states, “In proper alignment, spinal stress is diminished” (p. 2.).

Forward head posture of posture quadrant 1 is the culprit of many common symptoms that patients experience on a daily basis. Alexandra, a 16-year old girl was suffering from excruciating headaches. After performing a complete postural analysis to evaluate the health of her posture system, it was evident that she presented with forward head posture.

Headaches and neck pain are prevalent in our society, and very often they are directly related. In fact, approximately 50% of the population suffers from cervical spine pain or headaches. 70% of patients who present with headaches also demonstrate cervical dysfunction (Goldstein & Makofsky, 2005).

Watson and Trott (1993) performed a research study concluding that patients who present with cervicogenic headaches demonstrated a significantly more prevalent occurrence of forward head posture. In addition, it was noted that patients who present with forward head posture and have associated headaches also present with isometric weakness of the upper cervical neck flexor muscles.

Postural correction of the cervical spine is indicated as a treatment method for Text Neck and headaches. When Alexandra began postural correction care, her headaches were reduced from 4 days per week to a rare occasional headache that she commented was triggered by stress.

The correction of forward head posture can transform the quality of life of patients who present with Text Neck. This is a complex condition that requires complex attention.  Your patients deserve to live healthfully just like Alexandra. Alexandra’s mother was brought to tears with the posture correction results her daughter achieved.

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