Kids these days with their cell phones…Snapchatting, Twittering, and Instagramming their free time away! About 90% of teenagers have a cell phone now, and on average each one spends 24 hours per day (at least) staring at their screens. So…what’s the consequence? Well, aside from decreased attention spans, increased agitation/irritability, and even increased depressive symptoms , they are also putting intense levels of stress on their neck, shoulders, and upper back. In fact, looking down at a phone can put up to 60 pounds of strain on the muscles and joints of the neck and upper shoulders…that’s as much as my golden retriever weighs for goodness sakes! This can lead to “text neck” pain and physical impairments associated with the flexed neck posture from looking at a cell phone. Symptoms include headache , neck, upper back, and shoulder pain, which can sometimes be severe in nature. If these problems aren’t addressed, they may lead to chronic pain, as well as long term muscular and bony changes, even in younger individuals.
So what should your teen (or you) be doing to treat persistent text neck pain?
1) Hold your cell phone at eye level This takes the strain off of your neck and upper back, and can reduce the load on the muscles and joints by up to 80%.
2) Keep yourself moving by turning your head from side to side, looking up and down, and rolling your shoulders, you can help to minimize soreness and stiffness
3) Limit your duration on your cell phone realistically, we’re all going to continue using our smartphones, however by minimizing the length of time on your phone in any one sitting (I’d suggest no more than 15 minutes), you can reduce pain and help combat the ugly postures that go along with text neck
4) Contact your local physical therapist with prolonged forward flexed positions, muscles in the neck, shoulders, and upper back may become irritated and weak, and neck and upper back joints may become stiff and sore. A physical therapist will utilize a combination of trigger point therapy, joint manipulations, exercise, and education to get your teen (or you) back feeling normal again, and prevent any major problems from arising!
So if you or you child has what you think may be text neck, physical therapy is an inexpensive, quick, and long term solution to your aches and pains. Call now for a free phone consult!