We’ve all seen it. You’re in line at a bank in Raleigh, or at a party in Durham, or eating at a restaurant in Cary, or, really doing anything where people are, and you notice that you’re the only one not looking down at your phone. You feel good about yourself for a second, but then you realize you only noticed this because you happened to briefly look up from the phone in your hands. You hang your head in shame, then.. ow. You get a sharp pain in your neck.
The rise of “text neck”
Don’t feel ashamed though. We are all test subjects in this new digital world, and this problem is not unique to you. But it is a problem that you should be concerned about. In 2008, Dr. Dean Fishman came up with the phrase “text neck” after noticing a teenage girl in his waiting room with her head down texting. She was there to see him for mystery neck pains and headaches. It was quickly clear the extreme pressure she was placing on her neck muscles, ligaments and tendons under was inducing the strain.
Another doctor, a New York back surgeon named Kenneth Hansraj, decided to test just how much pressure this was adding up to. He published his stunning results in the Surgical Technology International journal. With the average head weighing around 10 lbs, it applied this exact amount of weight on the neck if the head was placed directly over the neck. If the head was in a forward position of 60 degrees though, this brought the weight of the average head to 60 lbs of pressure.
The impact of this excess pressure
Carrying around 60 lbs of pressure on one’s neck every day is not just uncomfortable. It’s dangerous. Doctors are reporting an epidemic of early arthritis, pinched nerves and spinal degeneration from all this extra stress. It’s the equivalent of six 10 lb bowling balls tied around one’s neck every day. And this is not just a brief moment in the day. The average teen is now spending around nine hours per day on the phone. The average adult is probably not much better.
What can be done?
The solutions are fairly simple, though many will find them difficult.
- Less phone usage – We understand. There is a whole amazing world of entertainment, information and social media on these devices, but as a culture, we are on them way too much. Try to form some basic rules and follow them. The rules can be things like only checking social media once in the morning and once at night, not looking at the phone unless it makes a noise, only checking email at set times, etc..
- Use talk-to-text – Rather than having your neck cranked down for much of the day, use the talk-to-text function. It may take some getting used to, but your neck will thank you. You can look around and think and speak your message with your head right where it’s intended to be.
- Bring the phone to your face, not your face to the phone – The reason our heads are drooped down all day looking at the phone is because we are often too lazy to just lift the phone up to our eye level. It’s really not much harder though. Because your arms will get tired after a minute or so, it may actually help you use your phone less too.
- See a chiropractor – We at West Cary Wellness see new patients constantly who complain of text neck. Spinal adjustments and other chiropractic services can go a long way to relieving some of the pain and pressure a bad cell phone habit has inflicted. Call or come by to set an appointment.