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Could Your Smart Phone Be Hurting Your Neck?

by | Sep 1, 2021 | Neck & Back Injuries, Neck Physical Therapy | 0 comments

Could Your Smart Phone Be Hurting Your Neck?

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Regular use of your smartphone may lead to preventable neck pain and related problems. 

The condition is called Text Neck, Smartphone Neck, and iPhone Neck.  While these are not official medical diagnoses each refer to posture problems in the cervical spine that are created by prolonged use of a cell phone, tablet, or similar handheld electronic device. Using small electronic devices generally means you spend a lot of time with your head bent forward. The problem is that this head action actually takes place in your cervical spine resulting in neck pain.

Chris Cornett, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and spine specialist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Rehabilitation points out that “When you hold your body in an abnormal position, it can increase stress on the muscles, cause fatigue, muscle spasms, and even stress headaches.” Other commonly reported symptoms coupled with neck pain are shoulder pain, and nerve-related symptoms such as radiating pain, numbness, tingling, burning and weakness into one or both arms.  A study by Lee and colleagues in October 2014 issue Ergonomics found that repetitive or prolonged neck flexion postures during smartphone use is a risk factor for neck pain. Not only did the study identify neck flexion associated with heavy smartphone use as a risk factor for neck pain, but it also found that texting may be the biggest contributing factor to device use related neck pain.  In the study, texting while sitting caused the largest degree of head flexion. 

One effective strategy to prevent neck pain related to device use is to raise your viewing angle. For this, there are a few things to try. You can put the tablet on a stand or on a table. If you must, work with it on your lap, consider propping it up with a pillow.  Frequent changes of posture and taking breaks from your device can also help to mitigate some of the symptoms.  Engaging in a postural correction exercises can prove effective.  Cervical retraction exercises, sometimes referred to as a chin-tuck, is one of the most widely used exercises in physical therapy to counter the stress and neck pain related to lengthy bending of the neck.   

If you think that you might need physical therapy to address the neck pain you experience when working at computers, tablets, and other electronic devices.  Feel free to call us at 836-2225.  Our physical therapists will be happy to get you started on the road to recovery. 


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