Text neck – How to relieve neck & shoulder pain

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Anyone who has ever spent too much time looking down at their phone or tablet knows that neck pain can be a real pain (literally). This condition, known as text neck, or “text neck syndrome”, is caused by the forward head posture that many of us adopt when staring at a screen.

The symptoms of text neck are pretty straightforward: neck pain, stiffness, and soreness, radiating pain into the shoulders and arms, and muscular weakness. While it may not seem like a big deal, text neck can lead to serious problems like headaches, impaired breathing, and even nerve damage.

Your head weighs 5kg, and each inch tilted forward doubles the weight carried by your neck.

The forward flexing of the head directly impacts our spine. Tilting the head forward to 15 degrees places great force on the neck and increases exponentially the further forward your head leans. Text neck compresses and tightens the muscles, tendon, and ligament structures in front of the neck while lengthening the muscles, tendon, and ligament structures behind the back. Our heads weigh approximately 5kg (the size of a bowling ball). The weight carried by your neck is increased exponentially by the seemingly innocuous tilt of your head. The extra strain adds up over time! Untreated text neck can result in stress injuries in the neck and shoulders, often resulting in pain, headaches, and even thoracic hyperkyphosis.

The risks of text neck are real and increasing. We spend about five hours per day looking at our phones (don’t believe us? Check your phone’s settings right away), and this is especially true given the pandemic. With the rise of social media and mobile gaming, it’s only getting worse. Read on as we will discuss what text neck is, how to prevent it, and how to alleviate the pain associated with it.

How do I know I have text neck?

The symptoms of text neck are fairly easy to spot. The most common presentation of text neck is neck pain, stiffness and soreness. The main text neck symptoms include:

1. Stiff neck

Difficulty in moving the neck and neck pain, especially after long usages of your phone or tablet. The pain may be localised in one spot or spread across an area, usually at the lower part of the neck. Most of the time, the pain feels like dull-aching, but in some extreme cases, are described as sharp or stabbing.

Learn more about the causes and effects of neck pain.

2. Shoulder pain

Shoulder muscles (trapezius, rhomboids and shoulder external rotators) are weak and there is often radiating pain from the shoulders to the arms. .

Learn more about the causes and effects of shoulder pains.

3. Headaches & Migraines

With muscle tightness due to the forward leaning of the head, there is increased tension, leading to tension type headaches. .

Learn more about the common causes and prevention methods of headaches and migraines.


At-home treatments for text neck

Of course, abandoning our devices and retreating into seclusion is not the solution. Instead, we should ensure that we exercise regularly and practice good habits to avoid the aches and pains caused by text neck. There are a few things that you can do at home to help alleviate the pain from text neck.

1. Maintain good posture

It is important to maintain good posture. Make a conscious effort to sit up straight and keep your head level with your shoulders. If you’re going to be looking at your phone for an extended period of time, make sure that your shoulders are back and down and your chin is level with your chest.

It is also important to set up your workstation ergonomically so that it is easier for you to maintain that good posture. We have compiled a guide on how to set up an ergonomic workstation here.

2. Take breaks

Try to take frequent breaks from looking at your screen. Every 20 minutes or so, take a few seconds to look up and stretch your neck. Better yet, try the 30:30 rule, which states that you should take a 30 second break every 30 minutes.

3. Neck & shoulder exercises

Strengthen your neck and shoulder muscles to prevent your head from leaning forward when using your phone.

We’ve put together some exercises to reduce neck pain and shoulder tension here.

While these at-home treatments for text neck help to reduce the amount of pain from text neck, if you already suffer from chronic pain symptoms of text neck, you may need professional treatments to help alleviate the pain.

Chiropractic treatment for text neck

Chiropractic care is an excellent treatment option for text neck, especially for those that have developed chronic neck and shoulder pains from text neck. As text neck has a direct impact on your spinal health, chiropractors, who are trained to identify and treat problems with the musculoskeletal system, are most fit to help. Chiropractors are able to release the tension in the muscles and correct posture.

Chiropractic treatment for text neck usually consists of chiropractic adjustments, which help to realign the spine and improve range of motion. This will help to reduce pain and prevent further injury. Adjustments are never painful and in some cases, relief can be felt immediately.

Think you may be suffering from text neck?

If you think you may be suffering from text neck, sign up for a $50 full spinal check-up today. We will be able to assess your condition and develop a treatment plan that is specific to your needs. Our chiropractors at Chiropractic Singapore are highly skilled and experienced in treating text neck and can help to get you on the road to recovery.

With the increasing reliance on our phones and tablets, text neck continues to impact more and more people. While text neck is becoming a common condition, it is important to seek treatment early to prevent further injury. Let us not let the epidemic of text neck take over us, technology is here to help us and should not cause us pain.

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