Is Your Phone Causing You Neck Pain?

Neck Pain Doctor

Neck pain is one of the major musculoskeletal disorders in the adult population, as well as one of the top four causes of pain according to a National Institute of Health Statistics. While the main purpose of neck muscles is controlling head movement, the neck also contributes to stabilization of the head and blood flow to the brain.

For individuals who experience neck pain, it can be a major cause of disability in work and everyday life. There are many factors that contribute to the cause of neck pain including ergonomics, age, physical activity, and stress levels. Though the exact etiology of neck pain remains elusive, one of the main causes is ergonomics and repetitive movements. “Text neck” or neck pain caused from looking down at wireless devices for long periods of time has become an increasing problem.

Technology is all around us, and there is no denying that smartphones, and tablets have become an integral part in most people’s lives. According to research from Statista (https://www.statista.com/chart/9539/smartphone-addiction-tightens-its-global-grip/), time spent on a mobile device was an estimated 88 minutes in 2012. This number is projected to increase to 203 minutes (3 hours and 23 minutes) in 2018. That is a lot of screen time, not to mention a lot of time spent looking down over mobile devices. This excessive strain on the neck may be the cause of your neck pain. Staring down at wireless devices for long periods of time, places enormous amounts of pressure and tension on the neck and spine.

Though it would be very difficult to completely eliminate all sources of technology, there are a few things you can do to avoid “text neck.”

  • Bring your phone to eye level– change the way you hold your device by bringing your phone to eye level, rather than slouching forward. By raising your phone to eye level, you avoid the forward-head posture that is typically associated with the cause of neck pain.
  • Take frequent breaks on average Americans check their phone every 12 minutes. Take regular breaks, put away your phone while having a meal and while you are commuting. Instead of checking your phone every 12 minutes, try to take a brief walk every 20-30 minutes.
  • Set up your screens- if you work at a desk, adjust your screen so that you are looking forward and it is at eye level. Your head should be positioned squarely and in line with your shoulders and your spine. The same advice remains when watching television and reading books and tablets.

To avoid “text neck” the best thing to do is be aware of your posture, and avoid any forward-head or bent position for extended periods of time. Neck pain can be debilitating, therefore do not wait to correct these small habits. If you are experiencing neck pain, or decreased range of motion due to “text neck,” an Overland Park, KS functional medicine specialist can help. Through specific stretches and techniques, an individualized plan can be made for you today.

 


 

Thank you to our friends and contributors at LifeWorks for their insight into phone use and neck pain remedies.