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Text Neck: Causes, Symptoms and Prevention

Many people spend hours looking down at their mobile devices. This poor neck posture can often times lead to a condition called Text Neck. Text Neck is a repetitive stress injury to the soft tissues and structures of your neck, shoulders and upper back caused by extensive time spent hunched over your mobile phone, tablet or other handheld devices. Some computer users with poor posture get text neck symptoms as well.

Causes:

Text Neck is caused by a flexed or hunched over neck posture, creating a forward head position. Hunching over and forward to look at screens causes the body to bend in unnatural positions. With greater degrees of neck flexion come greater potential for pressure to the neck area and its structures. See diagram:

Symptoms:

Pain or tightness in the muscles of the neck, shoulders and upper back.

Burning pain that starts out small and expands to a wider area the longer you are in the position of neck flexion. Sometimes you can experience sharp pain with movements and with more extreme cases this can progress to numbness and tingling the longer the positions of poor posture are held.

Morning stiffness and lost range of motion that improves but worsens again at the end of the day.

Muscles spasms or muscle achiness.

Headaches at the base of the skull while working on the devices.

Poor posture and changes to neck alignment.

Weakness of the neck and upper back muscles due to sustained poor postures.

Prevention and Treatment:

Text neck starts out with the poor posture position, and then it evolves into aggravation of the muscles, ligaments and joints.

You need to stop the cycle by changing and adhering to better posture while working on devices. Improving the posture and how you hold your head and arms while using the device.

Hold your phone or device at eye level as much as possible.

Take rest breaks.

Avoid looking down as much as possible.

Make sure to sit directly in front of your computer screen.

Stretches for neck and shoulders.

Work on neck posture exercises. A physical therapist can guide you on a specific program if you aren’t making progress on your own.

Text neck improves with time once the poor posture positions are avoided and you restore more normal motion and strength to the area. It can take 4-8 weeks for improvement.