In the past 20 years, social media has changed how we communicate and interact with one another on a daily basis. We follow and share daily and sometimes even minute by minute events in our lives via Facebook, Twitter, e-mails, Google +, Snap Chat, Instagram and of course texting.
When the cellular industry switched from analog to digital, the possibilities of communicating with each other were endless as we now know and experience today. The very first form of communication available besides actually talking on the phone was texting. It started out as a Short Message System or SMS for short, where a customer could send a message to another cellular number that consisted of 150 characters maximum. You were only able to send messages to people that had the same cellular provider as yourself and there were a limited number of texts you could send and receive each month for a monthly fee. If you went over your allotted amount of texts you found out quickly that texting could be very expensive. Over time companies came up with better plans, unlimited texting and eventually texting to people who had a cellular provider other than your own.
Texts were no longer limited to 150 characters and new phones came out with key boards making it easier to compose a text instead of using the number key pad on your phone. An entirely new language was developed due to texting, words such as “later” became “L8R” and phrases such as “be right back” became “brb” and the infamous “Laugh Out Loud” became “LOL”.
Fast forward to present day and side effects from all that texting seems to be rearing its ugly head. Most of you may remember having a bad day as a kid where you began to pout and your mother looked at you and said “If you make a face like that it is going to stay that way!”
Well it seems mom was absolutely correct. The result from countless hours of texting has resulted in a condition known clinically as Forward Head Posture but has taken on the new name of “Texting Neck”.
So what exactly is Texting Neck? It is a term used to describe the injuries and pain sustained from looking down at your cell phone for long periods of time. Symptoms may include:
• Chronic Headaches
• Upper Back Pain
• Shoulder Pain
• Neck Pain
It is believed in some studies that Texting Neck may lead to early onset of arthritis and that 79% of the population, ages 18 to 44 have their cell phones with them for 22 hours.
As I first stated the clinical term for Texting Neck is called Forward Head Posture and is not solely caused by texting on your wireless devices. Many things can be the cause of this condition. Everything we do during the day is done in front of us and usually involves the use of our arms and hands. Picture these activities in your mind and you will understand that many things we do in everyday life can be also be the cause. Reading, Driving for lengthy periods, Computer work, virtually anything we do that involves looking forward and down and using our arms and hands can in time cause Texting Neck. What takes place is over a period of time our arms and shoulders get tired and tend to roll forward and as a result our head and neck follow. Here are two x-ray’s demonstrating what it looks like under the skin.
You can see in both of the examples, where the lines intersect, that is where your ear (the black dot on the left x-ray) should be located. When in this position, aka the neutral position, the head is approximately the same weight as a bowling ball, about 12 to 15lbs. For every inch the ear travels forward our head increases in weight by 2X due to gravity. The weight is not as significant as how much harder the joints and muscles of the neck and shoulders have to work. Range of Motion decreases drastically and can be verified by this simple exercise. For a moment pretend you are a turtle and push your head forward on your shoulders and then try and move it around. Can you see how much harder it is to move it. That is one of the results of Texting Neck.
So how do we begin text neck treatment?
• First and for most prevention is a must. You should try holding your wireless device at eye level while using it.
• Take breaks from phones and laptops throughout the day as much as possible.
• Practice good office ergonomics as shown in the picture.
•Neck and shoulder stretches are also beneficial and can be performed at your desk.
• Believe it or not there is an app to help prevent this. It is called “Text Neck” and when in use if the wireless device is too low a red light shows up in the upper right hand corner and if in a proper position a green light is present letting the person know your device is at the correct level to not cause you harm. At this time the app is only available for Android devices but other platforms are in development at this time.
• Of course you should make an appointment at one of our four locations to receive care.
Total Health Systems is the only Multispecialty Clinic’s in the state of Michigan meeting all your healthcare needs at any one of our four locations. Our services include, Chiropractic Care, Physical Therapy, Medical doctor, Nutritional counseling with our Nutrition Nurse, Personal Trainers to help you strengthen those problem areas and Message Therapists for a beneficial therapeutic massage. Call and make your appointment today and remember to use your wireless device properly when doing so.