Text neck is becoming a more and more prevalent health issue in our current society. Text neck is characterized by the reduction of – or reversal of – the natural curvature in the neck. This condition is caused by periods of prolonged neck flexion (bending of the head forward or looking down). This is commonly seen in students who spend too much time reading, studying, or with electronic devices, especially phones. This change in neck curvature causes many health issues and can even cause changes in bone structures.
Normal vs. Abnormal
The natural curvature in the neck is present for a few reasons, but one of the most important reasons is to maintain adequate space for the spinal cord. When there is not enough curvature in the cervical spine, the spinal cord is pulled tight and is squeezed against the spinal column. This allows for significantly less information to be transmitted from the brain to the body. This loss of information can cause a variety of health issues including (but not limited to): headaches, heart rate and breathing issues, acid reflux, numbness, tingling, and muscle dysfunction.
Text neck can even cause bones to change shape. There was a recent article in the Washington Post in which researchers have found bone spurs on the back of the skull in a population of young adults with text neck. This spur occurs when tension is applied to the to the nuchal ligament day after day. This extra stress on a single point causes bone to form in an attempt to build more stability and strength. This is concerning because bony changes can’t be undone without surgery. A loss in curvature in the neck can also cause irreversible bony changes to the vertebral bodies and disc space as well.
What to Do if You Have Text Neck
If anyone is experiencing symptoms of text neck it is recommended that they seek the care of a chiropractor. Chiropractors are spine experts specializing in correcting spinal misalignments and postural distortions. This is good news for people suffering from this condition because with the appropriate evaluation and treatment text neck can be prevented and corrected if caught early enough.