Text Neck: The New Health Care Phenomenon

I have been seeing clients in my practice as young as nine years old complaining of neck and upper back pain. The cause of the problem: too much time spent hunched over a phone or hand held game. This condition is now being referred to as “text neck” by medical professionals. Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at a New York facility recently published a paper outlining the problems associated with poor posture of the spine.

neck pain from texting

The average human head weighs 10-12 pounds. When the head is in the correct position, centered over the shoulders, all the muscles around the neck are able to support it. When the head goes forward, the muscles at the back of the neck have to do all the work. As the head goes further forward, the weight on the cervical spine starts to increase. At a 15 degree angle of the neck, the weight is about 27 pounds. When the head is bent forward at a 60-degree angle, the weight on the neck is now 60-pounds, all being supported by the muscles in the back of the neck and into the upper back. Visualize doing a bicep curl all day with a 60 pound weight and you can imagine the strain this is putting on the neck.

Not only do the muscles get strained and sore, but research shows early degeneration of the discs in the neck, as well as losing the natural curve of the cervical spine. The pain may radiate down to the shoulders and arms.  Numbness or tingling can develop. Tight neck muscles can also cause headaches.

To help treat this problem, it is recommended that everyone practice good posture. Children and adults should limit the amount of time they spend looking down at their devices. The device should not be on the lap, but optimally, at eye level. Laptops should be on a table. It is recommended that breaks should be taken every 20 minutes to give the neck muscles a break.  Exercises to stretch tight muscles and strengthen weak ones are beneficial.

To help with neck pain that may be caused by electronic devices, please give me a call at the clinic at 905-220-7858 or Come Visit our location.  Located in Burlington Ontario, we assist both athletes and people with their physical health in Burlington, Oakville and Hamilton.


Madeleine Hunter, CAT(C), RMT