As the world becomes increasingly dependent on the internet, smartphone usage becomes one of the most defining factors in technological progress. For the past few years, there has been a gradual rise in the percentage of people who owns a smartphone. Based on a study, there were approximately 14.5 million smartphone users in Malaysia. This number is expected to grow to 20 million in 2020.
With this rise in smartphone usage, we are also starting to see more people present to the clinic with “text neck”. Text neck is a modern age term coined by US Chiropractor Dr. DL Fishman to describe repeated stress injury and neck pain resulting from excessive watching or texting on handheld devices over a sustained period of time.
Flexing the head forward to use a smartphone directly affects the spine. The human head weights about 5.5kg (12 pounds), as our head moves forward, its weight on the neck increases. At a 15 degree angle, the weight is about 12.2kg (27 pounds), at 30 degrees it’s 18kg (40 pounds) and at 60 degrees it’s 27.2kg (60 pounds). This is the concern that comes with staring at a smartphone at the wrong angle every day.
The Journal of Physical Therapy Science published a study on the break down of what happens to the body of individuals diagnosed with forward head posture.
- Muscles and joints at the front of the neck becomes weak, while the muscles in the upper back and shoulders get really tight.
- The center of gravity of the head shifts forward, increasing the load on the neck. This can subsequently result in musculoskeletal, neural and vascular system dysfunction.
- The changes that occur with text neck can lead to continual and abnormal pressure in the muscles, ligaments, and nerves of the neck and shoulders. Leading to rounded shoulders and herniated discs. Herniated discs may arise due to compensation, which results in higher load being placed on the back and shoulder muscles.
- When all of these changes are combined, an individual will eventually end up with “tension neck syndrome”- symptoms of this condition is similar to tension headache.
Text neck (forward head posture) doesn’t just affect the neck and shoulders, the center of gravity of the entire body is also altered, this affects the trunk and every joint in the body. The body will adapt to these positional changes by altering the balance control mechanisms of the body, decreasing our ability to balance when engaging in different activities throughout the day, this increases the risk of injury.
Regardless of the causes of “text neck”, one thing for sure is that this problem is not going away any time soon. Therefore, healthcare professionals are raising more awareness and empower our patients to make the necessary changes to preserve and enhance optimal function.
Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 03-62117533 for further enquiries. Our chiropractors and physiotherapist will be more than willing to help you get out of this all too common trap.