“Text Neck” is a term coined by Dr. Dean Fishman, after he noticed more and more people were coming to his office with the same complaint — they all had neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain, or numbness and tingling into the upper extremity. This was concurrent with the rapid rise of smartphone usage.
After studying the new phenomenon, it was found that text neck (also called “iHunch” by some) leads to premature wear-and-tear on the spine and degeneration. It’s also become a pretty widespread condition. “It is an epidemic or, at least, it’s very common,” Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, told The Washington Post. “Just look around you, everyone has their heads down.”
You might ask, “So what’s the big deal with putting your head down to check out an email?”
Fair enough. Let’s start with the fact that the typical human head weighs about 12 pounds. And the neck is fine with holding that amount of weight up, it was made to carry heads around, right?
When you bend that neck forward and down to check out something on your phone, the weight impact increases on your cervical spine (the structure of bones, nerves, muscles, ligaments, and tendons that extends from the base of your skull to the top of your shoulders). For example, at a 15-degree angle, your head puts 27 pounds of pressure on your neck. At a 30-degree angle, it’s 40 pounds. At 60 degrees, it’s 60 pounds.
That’s a lot.
Imagine carrying an 8-year-old around your neck several hours a day (and just imagine it, don’t try to actually do it!) and you’ll get the idea.
As you stretch the tissue for a long period of time, it gets sore and inflamed. That causes muscle strain, pinched nerves, herniated disks and, over time, it can even remove the neck’s natural curve. And the other thing to keep in mind is you’re also engaging in poor posture when you’re in the “text neck” position and that causes other problems. Experts say it can reduce lung capacity by as much as 30 percent as well as cause neurological issues, depression and heart disease.
Oh, and those headaches you might think are being caused by the tension and stress of your job? The truth is it’s highly likely they’re being caused by text neck because it’s another common symptom. They feel exactly like tension headaches…but aren’t.
I know it’s silly to think all these bad things can happen just as a result of staring at your smartphone. But Google “text neck” for yourself and you’ll see for yourself — these physical outcomes are all the real deal.
 Lindsay, Bever, “Text Neck Is Becoming an Epidemic and Could Wreck Your Spine,” The Washington Post, 11/20/2014 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/11/20/text-neck-is-becoming-an-epidemic-and-could-wreck-your-spine/
If you want to read more about “Text Neck”, and other chronic pain issues, go to my website and order my new book Athlete in the Game of Life.