Did you know that an average person checks their phone more than100 times per day? While we all know that using digital devices has numerous benefits, what’s less obvious is that overuse of these devices can lead to significant health problems. But it’s true: people of all age groups who rely too heavily on their mobile phones, laptops and computers are being negatively affected. Have you ever wondered why you may experience frequent shoulder, neck or back pain while using your mobile phone? It may be due to a condition known as Text Neck.
Text Neck is a syndrome or repetitive stress injury to the neck caused by holding your head in a forward or downward position for a prolonged period of time while using your mobile phone. The position that we adopt as we stare at our phones increases stress on the neck, and can lead to excessive wear and tear that may eventually require treatment. People spend most of their time texting without even realising that they need to give their bodies a break.
Your neck is designed to carry the weight of your head in an upright position. Hence, dropping your head increases the pressure and places additional strain on your neck, shoulders and back. When you tilt your head at an angle of 60 degrees, then you tend to increase the pressure on your neck by 60 lbs and this in turn leads to Text Neck. Common symptoms of Text Neck include headache, numbness, and pain in hand and neck muscles. In severe cases it can also lead to arthritis, hunchback and spinal disc problems.
Following is an effective treatment plan for dealing with Text Neck, shared by Dr Mrudula Ravi Kodipaka, renowned physiotherapy consultant with a specialisation in orthopedic rehabilitation. She is currently the head of department of rehabilitation at Century Super Speciality Hospital.
Treating Text Neck
After a specialist makes a complete assessment of the patient, a treatment plan is designed and it is typically divided into four phases.
Phase 1: Reducing Pain and Inflammation
Pain and inflammation are strong inhibitors of normal muscle and joint movement. The reason people seek treatment is due to severe pain, and there are three ways to cure this pain:
Interferential Therapy- This technique uses medium frequency electrical stimulus to remove muscle sprain, strain and spasms, when applied appropriately. The intermittent current stimulation is found to relieve pain. In addition, this form of therapy increases blood flow, and reduces swelling and edema.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS) - Tens units can help neck pain that may be the result of trauma and continual strain. In response to this type of pain, the body responds with an attempt to immobilize the pain area by tightening the muscle. This guarding of the muscle also impairs circulation in the affected area. The TENS treatment breaks the pain cycle and speeds the normal healing process.
Hydrocollator- The hydrocollator is a stationary mobile stainless-steel thermostatically controlled liquid heating device. Packs containing warm water are wrapped in several layers of towelling and applied to the affected area, providing acute pain relief.
Phase 2: Restoring Range of Motion and Strength
In this phase, as the pain subsides, the focus is to restore the patient’s normal joint alignment and range of motion, including muscle length and resting tension, strength and endurance. This consists of various neck muscle strengthening programs, mobilisation and, later, patients are put on a deep flexor strengthening program to facilitate dynamic control of their neck and head.
Phase 3: Restoring Full Function
In this stage, the rehabilitation program is tailored to enable the patient to perform their normal activities, depending on their lifestyle. There is no single set of treatment goals, since it varies from one patient to the next.
Phase 4: Tips for Preventing Recurrence
Hold cell phones and keep other devices at eye level, so you need not tilt your head.
Take frequent breaks by putting your phone away, and keep your head in the forward position.
Stand up straight: Maintain good posture with your shoulders pulled back and your body in a neutral position.
Arch and stretch: Arch your neck and upper back periodically to ease muscle tension.
Stay fit: Exercise regularly to keep your back and neck flexible and strong.
Text Neck may be one of the ills of the modern age, but it need not get you down. There are effective ways to deal with it or, better yet, avoid the problem to begin with! -- Akhila