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Chiropractic Care for Text Neck

Published Date: 
July 6, 2023
Categories:
A young woman is looking down at her phone.

Text neck is one of the most common physical ailments in our modern world. With billions of people using cell phones for hours each day, it’s no surprise that physical problems have developed.

Practicing proper posture and limiting phone use can help you avoid developing text neck. Unfortunately, many people already have alignment issues that need correction. Chiropractic care is one of the most effective options available for correcting problems that have developed due to cell phone use.

Text Neck: The Modern Epidemic

Considering how often people use cell phones, it’s no surprise that text neck is now an epidemic.


Text neck is a problem that develops with overuse. It puts excessive strain on the neck due to looking down at a handheld device. It can range from mild to severe and usually worsens over time.

The problem is a result of continued poor posture. It’s similar to forward-head posture and keeps the upper neck flexed rather than in the optimal extension position.

The human head can weigh between 25 and 60 pounds, depending on the angle at which you hold your head. This means your neck muscles do a lot of work throughout the day. Angling your face down, maxing out the weight of your head for several hours a day forces your neck to do the most work. 

Over time, text neck can lead to pinched nerves and spinal deterioration.

Symptoms of text neck include:

  • Neck pain
  • Stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Neck spasms
  • Back pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the neck
  • Weakness or pain that extends to your arms
  • Sharp, sudden pains in your neck when looking down

Prevalence and Impact of Prolonged Device Usage on Posture

According to a 2023 report, it’s estimated that there are nearly seven billion smartphone users worldwide. Approximately 87 percent of people 14 to 18 years old in the United States use smartphones. 

Man with glasses sitting on sofa, hunched over using a smartphone.

Considering how many people don’t practice good posture when using their devices, prolonged, excessive use causes the body to be in an unhealthy position more often than not. Many of the most common posture problems are more likely when using a cell phone. These include:

  • Forward neck posture
  • Slouched posture
  • Rounded shoulders

Common Symptoms and Long-term Consequences of Text Neck

The most common symptoms of text neck include:

  • Chronic, nagging pain in the neck and upper back
  • Sharp pains in the neck
  • Stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle spasms
  • Back pain
  • Shoulder pain and stiffness

Long-term consequences of text neck include:

  • Pinched nerves
  • Severe pain
  • Neurological symptoms

Role of Chiropractic Care in Treating Text Neck

There are several things a chiropractor can do to help you with text neck. 

Most treatments involve spinal adjustment to help you realign your spine and improve joint mobility. Essentially, chiropractic treatments help your body restore balance and return to normalcy.

Chiropractors also use soft tissue therapies, including massage. This helps with pain, improves circulation, and relieves tension in your neck.

In most cases, you’ll enjoy pain relief after just a single treatment. However, it might take a few adjustments to feel your best after developing text neck.

Young blond woman having her neck and back adjusted by chiropractor.

You can use over-the-counter pain relief medications to help with the discomfort of text neck, but there are often side effects. Not to mention these medications do not address and/or correct the root of the problem. Medication masks symptoms and provides only temporary relief. Chiropractic treatments fix the problem and teach you how to avoid future problems.

Comprehensive Assessment of Posture and Spinal Alignment

Chiropractors use posture improvements and spinal alignment to help with text neck.

Your assessment begins with an evaluation of your posture and spinal alignment. This allows the chiropractor to identify any areas of concern. The assessment might also include the following:

  • Posture analysis
  • X-rays
  • Range of motion tests

Chiropractic Adjustments for Realigning the Cervical Spine

Realigning the cervical spine (neck) is one of the most common techniques chiropractors use, especially when addressing text neck. The goal of an adjustment for realigning the cervical spine includes:

  • Pain reduction
  • Improved motion
  • Restoration of function to the head and neck

Specific techniques used for addressing text neck

Following a physical exam, a review of medical history, and a complete assessment that might include tests such as MRI, CT scan, X-rays, and more, your chiropractor will create a customized treatment plan. Manipulation techniques used for cervical spine problems typically include:

  • Cervical spinal manipulation: “traditional chiropractic adjustment,” also known as high-velocity, low-amplitude (HVLA) technique
  • Cervical spinal mobilization: gentler adjustment, also known as low-velocity, low-amplitude (LVLA) technique 

In addition to these hands-on treatment techniques, your chiropractor might offer lifestyle changes to help you manage discomfort and avoid further problems with text neck. Recommendations might include:

  • Postural improvements
  • Exercises
  • Ergonomic adjustments to work or home spaces

Manual therapy and soft tissue techniques for muscle tension relief

Chiropractors use manual therapy and soft tissue techniques to relieve muscle tension and correct problems with muscles and joints. It also reduces inflammation and mobilizes joints. Manual and soft tissue therapies include:

  • Joint mobilization: Restores function in the joints with slow movements to reduce stiffness and improve mobility
  • Strain-counterstrain: Relieves spasms that are creating pain using stretches to alleviate pain
  • Soft tissue mobilization: Relieves muscle tension and breaks up scar tissue
  • High-velocity, low-amplitude thrusting: Increases flexibility and range of motion in the joints using extreme stretches
  • Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM): Breaks up tense muscle fibers using contoured steel rods 

Preventing Text Neck

You can do several things to prevent text neck or keep it from worsening. For example:

  • Be mindful of your posture, especially when looking at devices
  • Take frequent breaks from your computer and from looking at your phone
  • Hold your phone at eye level
  • Place your computer screen 20 to 30 inches from your eyes
  • Use a monitor or laptop stand to elevate your screen to eye level
  • Sit with your head, hips, and spine stacked
  • Keep your wrists straight and your elbows at a 90-degree angle
  • Keep your knees in line with your hips
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor
  • Wear a posture-correcting device
  • Use a posture reminder app
  • Use a standing desk

Many of these suggestions help improve posture overall, in addition to dealing with text neck.

Conclusion

If you’ve developed text neck or any other physical problem due to using a cell phone or other modern devices, you aren’t alone. Millions of people suffer from chronic pain like this every day. Others are well on their way to developing problems because they aren’t practicing good posture.

Dr. Eric Neumann D.C.

Dr. Eric Neumann grew up in Alberta, Canada where he majored in Chemistry at the University of Calgary. During his time at University, he obtained licensure as a Massage Therapist. It was clear that hands-on healing would be his calling. After suffering multiple sport-related injuries he became interested in Chiropractic. Dr. Neumann graduated from Western States Chiropractic College in 2009. He has since specialized in the treatment and management of acute spinal injuries.

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