TEXT NECK: THE PAIN OF TECHNOLOGY
DR. RAVEES RAJA (PT). MPT, DRT, CKT, CDNT.
Walk down a busy city street and try to find someone that makes eye contact; you are more likely to literally bump into somebody walking towards you so engrossed in their smart phone world that their walking is slow, automatic and inattentive and they are at risk of accidents. This applies to people of all ages. A recent study shows that 79% of the population between the ages 18 and 44 have their cell phones with them almost all the time—with only 2 hours of their waking day spent without their cell phone on hand. The social implication of this epidemic is altogether another topic, but of concern in the modern era is the potential musculoskeletal consequence of this behaviour. We often text with our head down and chin poking out. It results in severe pain from excessive use of handheld devices. This induces a peculiar problem – Text Neck – from looking down at your cell phone or other wireless devices too frequently and for too long.. Text neck may cause severe neck pain, upper back pain, chronic headaches and permanent damage to the cervical spine.
Text neck is of special concern as it is seen in an increasingly younger population. Mobile users frequently adopt a prolonged forward head posture. Text neck directly affects the spine as it flexes the head at varying angles – when the head tilts forward at 15 degrees, the forces on the neck surge to 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it is 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it is 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it is 60 pounds, and at 90 degrees it is game over. This issue is a major concern with children since, their heads are larger in relation to their body size than adults, and thus may cause altered curvature of the spine and early onset of arthritis in the neck.
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pain and neurological symptoms, through your arm, into your hand. t &ZF TUSBJO t )FBEBDIFT
TIPS TO AVOID TEXT NECK:
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laptop high up, at eye level, in front of your face, keeping your head straight. t *G ZPV XPSL JO BO PĎDF NBLF TVSF UP
sit up straight in your chair, and that your screen is set up so that when you look at it you are looking forward, with your head positioned squarely in line with your shoulders and spine. t "WPJE TQFOEJOH BMM EBZ IVODIFE PWFS
computers and phones. Take frequent breaks and set an alarm that reminds you to get up and walk around every 20 to 30 minutes, and physically stretch or relax the neck muscles. Many people don’t know this, but you need to have strong core muscles—the abdominal and lower back muscles—
to support your upper body, including your neck. Your core muscles usually do not get enough exercise during normal daily activities, so you need to do specific exercises to target these muscles. You also need strong and flexible muscles in the neck to minimize strain on your cervical spine and help support the weight of your head. Again, your neck will not get sufficient stretching and strengthening during normal daily activities, so it is best to learn specific neck exercises with the help of a health professional.
HOW PHYSIOTHERAPY CAN HELP:
A good physiotherapist will usually focus on getting rid of any muscular imbalances, stiffness, muscular tightness, inflammation and relieving the compression. He will try various soft tissue manipulations, joint mobilization and strengthening techniques. They include: t .ZP GBTDJBM SFMFBTF PG OFDL NVTDMFT
including sub occipitals musculature. t 4USFOHUIFOJOH PG EFFQ OFDL ĘFYPST CZ chin tucks. t .BJOUBJO BO PQUJNBM length of muscles around the neck, by stretching of muscles such as Upper trapezius, Sternocleiodomastoid, levator scapulae, Scalenes, pectoralis minor, etc. t 4FUUJOH ZPV FYFSDJTFT GPS
strengthening of scapula stabilizers, rhomboids, middle and lower trapezius and shoulder external rotators.
If you head to a professional, a trained therapist who can massage and manipulate the correct neck muscles, not only does this provide pain relief, it is critical to the rehabilitation. Decreasing the tightness in the muscles, and realigning your neck, can almost instantly reduce your stiffness.
A physiotherapist can help you perform mobility exercises such as looking towards ceiling and down a few times and looking towards your shoulder tip while maintaining normal curvature of cervical spine and trying to touch your ear lobule with your shoulder on the same side.
You need to implement an exercise program at home to help your pain and rehab appropriately. Exercising will help to reduce the stiffness that you feel, and will ensure that any manipulation you had is maintained. A strong neck is a healthy one. Range of motion exercises are often necessary at the beginning. Gentle stretching exercises, isometric, and other low impact neck strengthening exercises can be implemented.
In addition to stretching, any form of low-impact aerobic exercise, such as walking, is often helpful in relieving any type of stiffness. Even if walking does not directly involve the neck, it helps circulate oxygen to the soft tissues throughout the spine, which in turn promotes healing.
These basic exercises are helpful but if
your condition is not relieved by this and you also have symptoms such as dizziness, fever, nausea, headaches, fatigue, mood swings, consult a doctor immediately, as it could signal a serious illness.
Some people may also benefit from a more comprehensive treatment plan, such as combining manual adjustments with massage therapy and cold-hot laser therapy. Resting is the first step to allow any injury to heal, and it is no different in this case. Ensure that you give your body enough time naturally to decrease the inflammation and promote the healing process. Any exercise or activity such as use of the mobile device that aggravates the neck, or replicates the symptoms, should be stopped immediately. Someone who swims may want to avoid certain swim strokes that involve lots of head twisting for a few days. However, it is recommended to limit rest to one or two days, as too much inactivity can lead to a weakening of the muscles, and weak muscles have to struggle to adequately support the neck and head.
Setting up a workstation to be ergonomically-friendly, lifting heavy items with the legs rather than the back, or sleeping on the back or side with an ergonomic pillow and being aware of posture throughout the day can keep the spine naturally aligned and minimize stresses on the neck.
A home remedy and very simple to do is alternating between hot and cold packs on the affected area to reduce the pain and inflammation. 20 minutes is a good time to work by, and you can get packs that you can heat and cool.
Lastly, if the symptoms and the pain is severe, then medications become necessary. As much as you love to decrease your pain naturally, often it is important in neck treatment to use some form of pain and inflammation medication (NSAIDS). They can help to reduce pain initially. Sometimes, dry needle therapy or injections may be helpful, but these should only be last-ditch measures.
Although it now seems rather clear that repetitive texting or similar activity while using a forward flexed neck position, may lead to neck pain or text neck, what is currently unknown is whether this poses a risk for intervertebral disc degeneration and consequent cervical spondylosis. Perhaps of even greater concern is the potential risk to the developing spine, considering the young age at which cell phones are now used by children.
The most common cause of this painful condition called Text neck is poor posture. Few other factors that contribute to this type of pain are poor sleeping habits, poor sitting habits, cold drafts, stress, etc. The 20-20-20 rule which means every 20 minutes take a 20 second break and focus the eyes on something at least 20 feet away is recommended practice in order to avoid musculoskeltal problems related to text neck. The correct posture to prevent text neck syndrome is the ears aligned with the shoulders and the shoulder blades.
Most important of all, don’t slouch while using mobile devices. The bottom
line is to avoid looking down with your head bent forward for extended periods throughout the day. Spend a whole day being mindful of your posture—is your head bent forward when you drive? When you watch TV? While reading? Any prolonged period when your head is looking down is a time when you are putting excessive strain on your neck. Straighten the mid-back and lift the chest and head throughout the day. This also applies to sitting, where slouching seems almost automatic. Sit straight on the butt, not on the lower back, and maintain the lumbar curve by sitting back in a chair with a lumbar support. Keep the chest and head held high. And learning to stand straight can also be a challenge. You finally understand that you had always been leaning forward when you find it feels unnatural to stand straight against a wall—with butt, shoulders/upper back, head touching the wall and knees slightly bent. If the back of the head doesn’t touch, do not force it and do not tilt it back; but straighten excessive curve of the upper back, if it is still flexible, with a deep breath, which will bring the head back, and fix the shoulder blades in the proper posture with the correct movements. The longer good posture is maintained, the more natural it feels and the stronger become the postural stabilizing muscles. Maintaining good posture is difficult; but doing it strengthens postural stabilizing muscles (the Core), which in itself is legitimate exercise.
LEVATOR SCAPULAE STRETCH