Cell phones and text neck

Text neck is a condition that describes how you develop it, you look at your cell phone a lot, the more text you look at, the more neck pain can develop. How does neck pain develop? By stretching the cervical spine ligaments. What happens when you stretch the ligaments? Your neck loses its natural shape and the weight of your head becomes difficult for your neck bones to keep upright. When this happens the cervical spine muscles try to compensate. Because the neck muscles are not suppose to keep the cervical vertebrae in place, the cervical ligaments are what holds bones in place, the neck muscles spasms. Now you have strecthed ligaments causing pain and neck muscles causing pain. This is the phenomena of text neck.

 

A November 2023 paper (1) examined posture and neck position in young people who were walking in a hurry. Sixty young participants (30 men and 30 women) who “engaged in smartphone tasks such as one-handed browsing or two-handed texting while standing, walking slowly, and walking normally were examined for head position and neck position during their walking. The researchers found that “using smartphones while walking may cause a more pronounced kyphotic curve in the cervical spine compared to when standing, leading to increased strain in the neck region. The heightened neck load can be attributed to the concurrent dynamic nature of both walking and smartphone usage.”

Posture guidelines for text neck reversal

In October 2022 doctors presented a case of text neck that was misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia for more than seven years (2). This is a case of a 50-year-old man, demonstrating that text neck is not isolated to children, adolescents and college students. “This man had pain around the head, neck and shoulder blades and paraesthesia in both upper limbs. He had been treated with analgesics for 7 years for suspected fibromyalgia, but the symptoms did not improve.” Scans revealed that the patient had lost his cervical lordosis (the natural curve of the cervical spine has straightened.) The patient was diagnosed with text neck syndrome and trained on how to use electronics, including his cell phone, without straining his neck. His neck pain reduced, and neurological symptoms resolved.

Exercise for Text Neck

A September 2023 paper (3) took 75 patients with text neck symptoms and provided these patients with neck stabilization training and contrology or Pilates training to see if either exercise was more effective in alleviating symptoms.

The patients in this study complained of neck pain for at least four months prior to the study’s start. They reported moderate or pain of 4 out of 10 level . They also reported that they constantly used mobile phones, reporting on average more than four hours a day. The researchers found that both the neck stabilization and Pilates training reduced neck pain and neck disability in individuals with Text Neck Syndrome.

They reported: “This study demonstrated that both neck stability and Contrology exercises enhanced the craniovertebral angle, decreased neck discomfort and impairment, and increased the craniovertebral angle (restored better head posture) in individuals with Text Neck Syndrome . . . . Patients with Text Neck Syndrome benefited more from neck stability exercises than Contrology exercises in terms of raising Craniovertebral angle, reducing discomfort intensity, and improving neck function.”

Chiropractic and posture guidelines

The story of a 24-year-old man with neck problems was presented in the journal Radiology case reports in January 2022. (4) This man had a 12-month history of head and neck pain and paresthesia of the right upper limb. He edited YouTube videos for a living. He was referred for chiropractic assessment after a year of treatments. His cervical radiographs showed cervical spondylosis. Previous management included pain medication and muscle relaxants. Interventions included repeated physical therapy, cervical traction, and acupuncture, with some temporary relief during the subsequent year.

Under the care of a chiropractic, the man had X-rays showing cervical kyphosis with C5 vertebral rotation, hypertonicity (excessive stiffness and tightness) of the paraspinal muscles, and paresthesia in the right C6 dermatome distribution (the thumb area), which were consistent with text neck syndrome associated with cervical spondylosis and right C6 radiculopathy. The man found success with improving posture while texting, cervical manipulation, and extension traction therapy. After 9 months of treatment sessions, the symptomatic and functional improvement was reflected by the radiographic changes in the cervical curve correction and the normalized paraspinal muscle tension on surface electromyology.

Injections

PRP treatments begin with your blood. The concept behind PRP or Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy are that there are healing elements within the blood that can be separated out. These elements are the blood platelets. The collected platelets are then injected back into neck area to stimulate healing and regeneration. Research has shown PRP to be effective in treating degenerative disc disease by addressing the problems of cervical spine ligament instability.

Research can be found in these articles:

In regenerative medicine injections, treating chronic neck pain begins with the repair and strengthening of cervical ligaments. Ligaments are the connective tissue that hold your cervical spine vertebrae in place and your neck in its correct anatomical alignment. Constant looking at your cell phone or computer screens can stretch and weaken these ligaments. When your ligaments are weak, they can no longer hold the neck and head in proper psoture. When the neck is not in alignment the vertebrae can pinch nerves, constrict arteries, put pressure on your esophagus among other problems that may cause the myriad of symptoms people may suffer from.

References

1 Chen YL, Nguyen HT. User walking speed and standing posture influence head/neck flexion and viewing behavior while using a smartphone. InHealthcare 2023 Nov 23 (Vol. 11, No. 23, p. 3027). MDPI.
2 Horino T, Ohnishi H, Komori M, Terada Y. Text neck misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia. Rheumatology. 2023 May 1;62(5):e172-3.
3 Bharal S, Rizvi MR, AlQahtani MM, Alajam RA, Sharma A, Ahmad I, Al-Otaibi ML, Alshehri MM, Ahmad MM, Shaphe MA, Ahmad F. Effectiveness of neck stabilization and Contrology training in comparison to conventional therapy amongst individuals with Text Neck Syndrome. European Review for Medical & Pharmacological Sciences. 2023 Sep 15;27(18).
4 Chu EC. Preventing the progression of text neck in a young man: A case report. Radiology Case Reports. 2022 Mar 1;17(3):978-82.

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