Health and Beauty

Do you suffer from text syndrome?

Neck pain for a long time? Addicted to your smartphone? Be careful, you may suffer from Texter Syndrome or Texting Neck! Continue reading this article to learn what it is and how to prevent it.

Neck pain is a disease of the 21st century

Neck pain, i.e. neck pain, is a very common disorder in our modern society. Neck pain is considered the fourth most disabling pain in the world(1)(2)which affects 30 to 50% of the general population(3).

The structure of the neck is complex and many diseases can cause neck pain. After a few Google searches, herniated discs, tumors, infections… and other very pessimistic diagnoses appear to be the doctor of choice for new generations. breathes! In most cases, no significant disease is detected, so it is a clinical condition called “musculoskeletal neck pain.”

We all have the image of this couple in the restaurant, looking at their smartphone, not talking to each other. We also noticed that many people on public transportation were isolated behind headphones.

In the same way, some of us have already witnessed family meals becoming increasingly silent with the presence of screens. In fact, we seem to have become less present, more distracted, individual and dependent on these devices. Have we become zombies addicted to new technologies?

The latest research reveals that using electronic devices such as computers or mobile phones increases the risk of developing this disorder. For this reason, we have seen an increase in cases of neck pain in recent years, especially among teenagers and professionals using new technologies.

In short, Nerve Syndrome can be considered a “modern-day pain” and the leading cause of neck attacks today.(4)(5).

What is “Text Neck Syndrome”?

Text Neck Syndrome (TNS) was first described by American chiropractor Dr. Fishman as “an overuse syndrome involving the head, neck, and shoulders, resulting from excessive pressure on the spine from looking at a hand-held electronic device.”

Examples include cell phones, video game consoles, laptops, MP3 players, e-books, and more.(6).

Text neck syndrome in pictures.
Illustration credit © Mdpi

In fact, an adult's head weighs about 5 kg when the spine is in a neutral position. This weight increases significantly when the head is bent forward. The further it is pushed forward, the greater the lever in the neck that supports it and the worse its condition.

At 15 degrees of flexion, the pressure on our neck rises to about 12 kg while at 60 degrees, we reach 27.22 kg.

In addition, repeated forward bending of the head can change the curvature of the cervical spine, damage the supporting ligaments, tendons, muscles and vertebrae, and cause postural changes as well as unbearable pain.(7).

How do I know if I have text neck syndrome?

Scientific studies estimate that 75% of the world's population uses a device daily with poor upper body posture, leading to negative consequences for physical and mental health.

Neck pain is clearly the main symptom of text syndrome, but it is not the only one. This condition can also cause pain in the shoulder and arm. It can also lead to extreme fatigue, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, and headaches. More serious cases can cause eye or digestive problems, a herniated disc, tingling or numbness in the arms and legs, and sometimes difficulty breathing.

In addition, adverse psychosocial effects have also been reported in the literature: isolation, anxiety, irritability, stress, anxiety, panic disorder, poor communication, and decreased productivity.(8).

Are you worried? In this case, you must take these signs seriously and deal with them as soon as possible!

How to prevent it?

If you start experiencing some of the symptoms of this disorder, don't wait until it gets worse! It may already be too late! Take charge of this issue and follow the tips below to fix it.

Moderation in the use of electronic devices

Avoid prolonged use of smartphones, tablets, laptops and other similar devices.

Detox weekends are starting to become fashionable. In fact, this idea can relieve pain in an instant, but it is not the long-term solution, because we are not going to lie, new technologies have arrived and are here to stay! We cannot deny that the cell phone has become an essential element in our lives.

It is not only used to communicate with people, it is also our diary, our music device, the source of our leisure activities, and even for some people, this tool is used to meet partners… We are always with us, we constantly consult it and when we leave without it, it is as if we are missing Something really important.

It is clear that we will not be able to get rid of new technologies. On the other hand, it is possible to set limits and control the time we spend using these devices.

If knowing how to get off your phone isn't easy and good solutions aren't enough, apps can help us disconnect. Some will allow you to limit the amount of time you spend on your smartphone with access to screen time graphs and statistics on a daily and weekly basis.

Others will help you set usage limits for all your apps. There are some more extreme ones that may result in your device being locked if you exceed the specified usage time.

Otherwise, you can choose to clean up your apps and keep most of them. Try leaving Messenger, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram off your phone, and only view them on your computer. In the end, your notification settings will never be useless.

Maintain good posture

If you can't live without your cell phone because your job requires it or because you're weak-minded… pay attention to your posture! Hold the phone near eye level, and avoid tilting your head forward or bending your neck down. Avoid watching screens flat on a table or on your lap. There is a support designed to raise the screen of your smartphone or tablet when using it.

Also watch your posture when sitting. Keep your back straight and occasionally raise your laptop to eye level to relax your neck.

Finally, it is preferable to use the speakerphone during your phone conversations. Headphones with a built-in microphone will also allow you to communicate while maintaining correct posture.

I exercise regularly

Regular physical exercise can help combat the phenomenon of “text neck.” A strong, flexible back and neck are better able to withstand additional pressure. If you have to stare at a screen for a long time, take regular breaks.

Get into the habit of taking a 2 to 3 minute break every half hour. You can set an alarm on your phone to remind you or use apps like Pomodoro. During these breaks, perform stretches and exercises that will help offset the harmful effects of bending your head forward for long periods of time.

Here are 5 exercises you can do during breaks and especially at the end of your day.

Cervical mobilization : Gently move your head as if you wanted to draw circles with your nose. Start with small circles, and if you don't feel pain or dizziness, make them bigger and bigger. Do 15 times in each direction.

Turning the head into a neck blocking exercise

Turtle exercise : Like a turtle head, move your head forward without moving your back. The nose follows a horizontal line on the ground. Then, move your head back and create a double chin by correcting the cervical curvature. Emphasis on this last position. It must be done 15 times.

Exercise turtle sore neck neck pain

Trapezoidal stretch Place your left hand on the top right of your head and slowly tilt your head to the left, bringing your left ear toward your left shoulder. Apply light pressure with your hand to increase the stretch. Keep both shoulders low and relaxed, paying special attention to the right shoulder and trying to move it away from the right ear. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Then lift it very slowly and repeat the movement on the other side.

The trapezius muscle is stretched

Stretch the pectoralis and biceps : To relax the muscles that help us hold our phones. Clasp your hands behind your back and extend your arms, keeping your elbows straight. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

Stretch the biceps thoracic muscle
Image source © Fitnessheroes

Strengthening the back muscles : Sit properly with good support for your feet on the floor, and straighten your back as you grow taller. Next, bring your shoulders back by bringing your shoulder blades together and pushing your chest out.

Strengthening the back muscles
Image rights © Adobe Stock

Consult a specialist

It is recommended to make an appointment with a physical therapist to treat persistent pain. If serious symptoms occur, it is recommended to consult your doctor for a full evaluation.

Do you suffer from text syndrome?

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