Reply “STOP” to Text Neck Syndrome

January 15, 2020

Have you noticed pain and soreness in your neck that you can’t attribute to an injury or disorder? Text neck syndrome—first conceived by Dr. D. L. Fishman in 2018—may be to blame. Text neck syndrome joins the all-too-common “texting thumb” in an emerging trend toward smartphone-related injuries. The number of smartphone owners in the US alone has reached 81 percent—a number that has more than doubled since 2011. That’s more than 267 million people who spend some or most of their day with their heads bent down toward screens, an angle that does not come naturally to your body. Why is this so harmful? For every 15 degrees you bend your neck, the amount of pressure from the weight of your head more than doubles: At a 60-degree angle, your 12-pound head now weighs 60 pounds and your neck needs to support it!

Symptoms of text neck include:

  • Neck soreness
  • Shoulder tightness
  • Chronic headaches
  • Sharp upper back pain
  • Hand pain (caused by a pinched nerve)

Untreated, text neck can lead to:

  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Neurological issues
  • Early-onset arthritis
  • Spinal misalignment and degeneration
  • Disc compression and herniation

Mitigate symptoms by changing your phone habits:

  • When possible, use a desktop or laptop at an ergonomic workstation
  • Bring your phone to eye level
  • Take a screen break every 15 minutes
  • Use earbuds or speakerphone for prolonged phone calls
  • Use voice-activated features, like Siri or OK Google, when possible
  • Use screen time features to help you limit the amount of time you use your phone, especially with habit-forming nonproductive apps, which are designed to suck you in. To see how, we highly recommend Indistractable, by Nir Eyal)
  • Put your phone down, go outside, get some fresh air and some exercise. The benefits will far outweigh whatever perceived benefit you are getting from watching yet another cat video on YouTube.

Help ease your discomfort by stretching your neck and shoulders whenever possible.

If you’re suffering from neck—or any other orthopedic—pain, whether or not it’s caused by smartphone use, contact the spine subspecialists at Orlin & Cohen, Long Island’s leading orthopedic practice. Immediate appointments are available: Request yours now.