The advent of the smartphone has put the world at our fingertips, but at the same time, it is also responsible for millions of new cases of back pain each year. Spinal clinics are seeing more patients with neck and cervical spine pain, and oftentimes the repetitive strain of leaning forward to look down at your phone plays a role in this discomfort. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the problem of text neck, and we explain how a physical therapist can help you prevent and treat the condition.
What Is Text Neck?
Text neck, also referred to as tech neck, is a collective term for a number of different conditions that affect the neck region and are brought on or worsened because of the repetitive motion of leaning forward to stare at an electronic device, like a smartphone, iPad or computer. It can refer to more mild problems, like a neck strain or muscle stiffness, or it can reference more serious conditions, like a pinched spinal nerve or a herniated cervical disc. Whatever condition your screen time is contributing to, some of the more common symptoms associated with a text neck issue include:
- Neck pain
- Limited range of motion
- Pain that radiates to your shoulders or arms
- Arm or hand weakness
- Numbness or a tingling sensation in your neck or extremities
If you are dealing with any of these symptoms, and you recognize that your smartphone or electronic devices could be playing a role in its onset, reach out to your primary care physician or a physical therapist to help correct the problem. It is imperative that you seek out assistance for your neck issue, because the problem will likely get worse if left untreated. Because our everyday habits played a role in the condition’s onset, it can be really difficult to identify and change the habits that are contributing to your neck pain without professional assistance.
How A PT Can Help Treat Text Neck
If you’re experiencing neck soreness, pain or range of motion difficulties, it’s a good idea to sync up with your primary care physician or a physical therapist. Oftentimes it’s easier just to call the PT clinic, since most physicians will refer you to physical therapy anyways. Once you’re at the clinic, your physical therapist will conduct a physical assessment of your neck and spine and ask about your symptoms. They’ll also have you conduct a few range of motion and flexibility exercises to see which actions are difficult and which ones cause symptoms to develop.
From there, a PT will develop an individualized treatment plan based on your specific needs, but oftentimes they will involve a combination of some of the following exercises and activities:
- Postural Correction – Your PT will help to correct your posture when you’re going about your day and when you’re using your electronics to ensure you aren’t continuing to put excess stress on your neck.
- Device Positioning – Aside from correcting your posture, your PT will work to help change your device positioning when you’re using these options. They’ll help to identify some safe and non-stressful positions to place your device when you’re using it so that your neck doesn’t try to tilt forward in order to see it.
- Neck Muscle Strengthening – Your PT will also develop an exercise routine to strengthen muscles in the area so that they are better prepared to handle stress when called upon.
- Range Of Motion Increases – Exercises and stretching routines both in-clinic and at home can help to increase flexibility and your neck’s range of motion if stress in the region has limited these capabilities.
Together, we’re confident that we can help you put an end to your neck pain caused by electronic device use. For more information, or for help with your neck discomfort, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today.
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