Print Posted 05/30/2017 in Category 1

Text Neck: Technology May Be Affecting Your Health

Text Neck: Technology May Be Affecting Your Health

Text Neck refers to pain caused by texting that starts in the neck and upper back. Text Neck is a growing problem because so many people, including children, are constantly using smartphones, iPads, handheld computers and video games. Most people are looking down at their phone when they are text messaging. It is estimated that most people spend 2-4 hours every day looking down at their phone while texting, emailing, using apps, or on social media. This adds up to between 700-1400 hours a year - and for most teenagers, it can be more than 5000 hours - with the head in a down and forward position that will pull on the neck and the supporting muscles and ligaments.Text Neck is not officially used as a diagnosis for health problems. However, an increase in the kinds of issues it can create has been observed. Continuously looking down at a portable device can change the way that the spine is designed. It specifically affects the natural curvature of the neck. Repeatedly looking down causes the curve of the neck to reverse, leading to deformity of the ligaments and the muscles that hold the head up. Nerves in this area are abundant, and they can become stressed. This is called occipital neuralgia and results in such things as headaches and migraines.

What Causes Text Neck?

The number one cause of Text Neck is bad posture. When we text or play video games with our heads bent forward and down, we increase the stress on our neck and upper spine. The average human head weighs between 10-12 pounds, but texting with our head bent at a 60º angle increases it to the equivalent of 60 pounds. Even just a 30º downward angle puts 40 pounds of pressure on the neck - four times the pressure our necks are used to dealing with.The neck (cervical spine) is designed to achieve several important functions:

  1. Allows you to turn your head from side-to-side and up and down
  2. Act as a shock absorber shielding the brain from jolts and jarring knocks
  3. Protect the nerves that run inside the spine, down from the brain and then branch out throughout the body

The proper curvature of the cervical spine is similar to a “C” with the opening pointing to your back. When you look at the entire spine, it forms an “S” shape. Without the natural and proper curvatures to the spine, we wouldn’t be able to bend, twist, and turn properly. Texting or spending time on social media with our heads bent down and forward is an unnatural position for the neck, pulling the curvature of the spine in the opposite direction it is supposed to go. This is unhealthy for the neck and upper spine.

Over time, the hours of bad posture pull against the natural curvature of the spine, and instead of our necks curving properly toward the back, the natural curvature of the cervical spine (neck) can be reversed and actually bend in the opposite direction. In addition to the neck bending the wrong way, hours of sitting (or standing) with our heads in the forward and down position will weaken the muscles in the neck and upper back, damage the tissues in the neck, and round the shoulders forward.

In the initial stages of Text Neck you may not experience much pain, or have pain that comes and goes, but over time if left uncorrected text neck will lead to a lot of pain.

Problems Due to Text Neck

Text Neck can be causing damage before most people are aware there is a problem. Usually, most people become aware that something is wrong when they start experiencing headaches and neck pain.

Potential Problems Caused from Text Neck

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Breathing Issues
  • Pain (Neck, Upper Back, Arm)
  • Vision Problems
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Arthritis in the Neck
  • Disc Degeneration & More

As Text Neck pulls the cervical spine and upper back forward, the nerves it protects can become pinched, experience pressure, or even become herniated discs. Text Neck causes subluxations (misalignments) in the spine. These subluxations in turn cause interference in the nervous system causing, not only pain, but poor communication between your brain and the muscles, organs, and every function of the body. Physically, over time, your muscles will get weaker, your shoulders will round forward, and you gain a hunched over appearance.

The nerves most affected by Text Neck will be in the cervical spine (Neck - C1-C2). As Text Neck pulls the head forward, in addition to changing the natural curvature of the spine, it also transforms the shape and size of the openings the nerves use to exit the spine. This causes the nerves to be pinched and their function to be diminished.

Protect Yourself from Text Neck

The first thing is to be aware of the poor posture that texting can bring, and be consciously taking measures to avoid the amount of time we spend with our heads in the down and forward position. Simply lifting your smartphone to a higher position will help reduce the pressure on your neck. Stand up and move around for at least 5-10 minutes every hour. This will help improve your posture. 

Text Neck & Upper Cervical Chiropractic

Text Neck can cause misalignments of the C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis) vertebraes in your neck. The misalignment can compress your brainstem and interfere with the nerve communication from your brain to every part of your body. When your body does not receive 100% nerve signals, health symptoms can develop. Proper spine alignment allows your body to function at its optimal. UC Care will go a long way toward protecting your spine and the function of your nervous system. Schedule a check-up with your Upper Cervical chiropractor.

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