What is "Text Neck?"
By Dr. George Bobbitt
Text what? Text Neck- this could be a potential new and upcoming diagnosis among our children and all of us adults. Who would have thought that looking down at our phones and other media devices could ever cause such tremendous problems we are seeing today? The simple act of consistently looking down at our phones is responsible for a great amount of the reasons people are seeking relief from neck and shoulder pain, numbness/tingling and pins and needles down the arms/hands, headaches and migraines.
Most people would never think that a common everyday routine could be the cause of their problems. Why is that?
Recently I was reminded of a quote- “You don’t know what you don’t know.” We search for “the why” we hurt, but rarely do we really find the cause. In fact, it has been said that the further we get from the truth, the more complicated things get. Or said another way- if things are getting too complicated, then stop and take another look because the answer to our problem is usually very simple.
Our common everyday experiences can become repetitive thus causing stress to our body over time. We are not aware that these repetitive stresses can cause a problem over time. Some other repetitive stress issues that we may be familiar with are carpal tunnel, plantar fasciitis, golfer’s elbow, tendinitis, tennis elbow, trigger finger and now text neck.
So how does text neck create a problem?
When we constantly look down, the neck muscles start weakening. The further the head moves away from the shoulders the more stress is placed on the neck, muscles and nerves that exit the vertebrae in the neck. The repetitive nature of this act creates the stress that quickly leads to sprain/strain of the neck and shoulders.
This initial sprain/strain of the neck then leads to muscle spasms. The muscle spasms lead to increasing inflammation in the soft tissue. As the soft tissue inflames, there is additional weakening of the soft tissues and muscles in the neck and shoulders. This process continues for years and can ultimately lead to surgery.
The body begins to break down after years of repetitive stress and degenerative processes are the result. These degenerative processes come in the form of spinal disc bulges, protrusions, degenerative disc disease, arthritis, scar tissue and spinal mis-alignments.
I am concerned because this condition is not getting better. I am seeing more children coming into my office because their necks have become so weak from the improper use of modern technology. X-rays have been so important in the diagnosis of repetitive stress syndrome for the neck and shoulders. I am now seeing our children’s spine degenerate at a faster rate than 15 years ago.
A constant forward head posture from texting will super-accelerate the pre-existing degenerative process in adults as well.
Years ago we suffered body complaints because of excess computer work. Then ergonomics came into place, and many people were able to remedy the effects of repetitive stress. Back then, we were only on devices for a portion of the day. But now- we are on our devices the majority of the day and night.
Maybe this is starting to make sense? If we are doing the same harmful thing over and over, isn’t highly probable that we may be injuring our bodies. And if we continue to injure our bodies daily, doesn’t it make sense that many of our health concerns and problems could be remedied if we just changed the way we do things in addition to correcting the current damage?
This is a big deal – I am here to help.