For the best experience, open
https://m.greaterkashmir.com
on your mobile browser.

Text Neck Emerging as Major Concern

12:00 AM May 15, 2024 IST | DR. ZUBAIR SALEEM
text neck emerging as major concern
Advertisement

In today's digital age, where smartphones and computers are ubiquitous, a new health concern has emerged: text neck. This condition, characterized by neck pain and discomfort, is becoming increasingly common, particularly among younger generations who spend prolonged periods hunched over electronic devices.

Advertisement
   

What is Text Neck?

Advertisement

Text neck, also known as tech neck or smartphone neck, refers to a musculoskeletal condition caused by repeated stress on the neck and spine due to poor posture while using electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers. When individuals spend extended periods looking down at their devices, it places excessive strain on the muscles, ligaments, and vertebrae of the neck, leading to discomfort and pain.

Causes of Text Neck
Text neck is primarily caused by the repetitive bending of the neck forward and downward while using electronic devices. The human head weighs approximately 4.5 to 5 kg in a neutral position. However, as the head tilts forward, the effective weight experienced by the neck muscles increases significantly, up to 27 Kg at a 60-degree angle. This places immense strain on the cervical spine and surrounding structures, leading to muscle fatigue, tension, and discomfort.

Advertisement

Common Age and Symptoms
While text neck can affect individuals of all ages, it is particularly prevalent among younger populations who are heavy users of smartphones and other handheld devices. Adolescents and young adults who spend several hours each day texting, browsing social media, or gaming on their devices are at increased risk.
The symptoms of text neck vary but commonly include:
1. Neck pain and stiffness: Persistent discomfort in the neck region, often aggravated by movement.
2. Upper back pain: Aching or tension in the upper back, between the shoulder blades.
3. Shoulder pain: Discomfort or tightness in the shoulders, especially along the trapezius muscles.
4. Headaches: Tension headaches, often originating from muscle strain in the neck and upper back.
5. Reduced range of motion: Difficulty in moving the neck freely or turning the head from side to side.

Advertisement

Risk Factors
1. Prolonged device usage: Spending excessive time hunched over smartphones, tablets, or computers.
2. Poor posture: Maintaining a forward head posture or slouched position while using electronic devices.
3. Inadequate ergonomics: Using poorly designed workstations or furniture that does not support proper spinal alignment.
4. Muscle weakness: Weak neck and upper back muscles may be less able to withstand the stresses of poor posture.
5. Age: Older adults may be more susceptible to the effects of text neck due to age-related changes in spinal health and muscle tone.

Advertisement

Prevention Strategies
1. Maintain good posture: Sit or stand upright with the head aligned over the shoulders and the ears positioned directly above the shoulders.
2. Take frequent breaks: Limit screen time and take regular breaks to stretch and rest the neck and upper back muscles.
3. Adjust device positioning: Hold smartphones and tablets at eye level to reduce the need to bend the neck forward.
4. Use ergonomic accessories: Invest in ergonomic chairs, desks, and computer accessories that promote proper posture and spinal alignment.
5. Practice neck exercises: Perform strengthening and stretching exercises for the neck and upper back to improve muscle tone and flexibility.

Advertisement

Treatment Options
If symptoms of text neck persist or worsen, various treatment options are available to alleviate discomfort and promote healing. These may include:
1. Physical therapy: Targeted exercises and manual therapy techniques can help improve posture, strengthen muscles, and reduce pain.
2. Pain management: Over-the-counter pain relievers, heat therapy, or ice packs may provide temporary relief from neck pain and inflammation.
3. Postural correction: Education and guidance on proper body mechanics and ergonomics can help individuals adopt healthier habits and reduce strain on the neck and spine.
4. Massage therapy: Therapeutic massage can help relieve muscle tension and improve circulation in the neck and upper back.
5. Chiropractic care: Spinal adjustments and manipulative techniques performed by chiropractors can help realign the spine and alleviate pressure on the affected nerves and tissues.
In addition to the symptoms mentioned earlier, text neck can lead to various complications if left untreated.

These complications may include:
1. Chronic pain: Persistent neck and back pain can become chronic if the underlying causes are not addressed, impacting daily activities and quality of life.
2. Muscle weakness: Prolonged strain on the neck and upper back muscles can lead to weakness and imbalances, further exacerbating postural issues and discomfort.
3. Spinal misalignment: Text neck can contribute to changes in spinal alignment, potentially leading to structural issues such as kyphosis (excessive rounding of the upper back) or lordosis (excessive curvature of the lower back).
4. Nerve compression: Compression of nerves in the cervical spine can result in radiculopathy, causing symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms and hands.
5. Degenerative changes: Chronic poor posture and repetitive stress on the spine may accelerate degenerative changes such as disc herniation, arthritis, or spinal stenosis.
6. Reduced mobility: Stiffness and reduced range of motion in the neck and upper back can impair mobility and increase the risk of injury during daily activities.

Given these potential complications, it's essential to heed the following notes of caution:
1. Early intervention: Addressing text neck symptoms promptly and seeking appropriate treatment can prevent complications and promote long-term spinal health.
2. Balanced device use: Limiting screen time and incorporating regular breaks to rest and stretch the neck and upper back muscles can help mitigate the risk of developing text neck.
3. Ergonomic awareness: Pay attention to ergonomic principles when using electronic devices, including maintaining proper posture, adjusting screen height, and using supportive furniture and accessories.
4. Self-awareness: Be mindful of your body position and posture while using electronic devices, and make conscious efforts to avoid prolonged periods of forward head flexion.
5. Professional guidance: Consult with healthcare professionals, such as physical therapists, chiropractors, or orthopedic specialists, if you experience persistent or worsening symptoms of text neck. They can provide personalized treatment plans and recommendations based on your specific needs and circumstances.

Advertisement