I hadn’t heard about ‘Text Neck’ until yesterday. I have been suffering a pain in my upper back, right between my shoulder blades, for four days now. It is most painful when I look down. Not only annoying in daily life but as a writer particularly so when you want to position your fingers correctly on your keyboard or text on your mobile phone. I’ve seen a chiropractor for the problem yesterday. She mentioned one of my legs is longer than the other, loosened up my wrists, and stuck her finger in my mouth ‘to clear my sinuses.’ I left with the same pain in my back. Still in agony, I managed to see the emergency doctor at my GP clinic. ‘Take some aspirin,’ she said. I did, and my pain is still there.
I was very disappointed in these health professionals. The chiropractor didn’t do anything to relieve my pain, the GP wasn’t interested in what caused it. Holistic healthcare doesn’t seem to exist anymore. So I did some research online to find out what was causing my pain and what I could do about it. That’s when I read about ‘Text Neck.’
What is Text Neck?
Text Neck is a repetitive strain injury of the ligaments and muscles in your neck and upper back that keep your head upright. It is primarily seen in young people who use their mobile phones frequently. People have looked down to read books in the past, but using mobile phones has added to this looking down and often for a substantially more frequent and longer period at a time.
What causes Text Neck?
As we look at our mobile phones, laptops, or tablets to connect with our social media, we look down. It’s this looking down that puts extra strain on the ligaments and muscles in our neck and upper back. Our head weighs about 5-6 kgs. Some people boast of having more brains than others, but let’s not go there now. When we tip our head forward and down, the feel of our head weight increases for our tendons and muscles. The image below gives you an indication of how heavy your head can feel to them.
The more you let your head hang down to look at your phone, the heavier it gets. Some people get neck pain, some people (like me) get upper back pain, some people get (chronic) headaches. The pain particularly happens when you put your head in the compromising position. I must admit I use my mobile a lot. I Tweet, WhatsApp, Hangout, and use Facebook on my phone. I’ve recently been looking at Instagram too. You have to ‘spread the word of your existence and your books’ as a writer, don’t you? The worst part for me is that it affects my writing on my PC as looking down on my keyboard is extremely painful.
How can you treat Text Neck?
The first thing that needs to be done is to treat the pain and inflammation. The pain is the most common reason people seek out professional help and this should be the first thing they should treat (not stick fingers in mouths to unblock sinuses). It is best to see your GP for this.
Next, your posture should be assessed and corrected. A physiotherapist seems to be the best health professional for this. They can do the physical assessment and give you muscle strengthening, posture correcting, and stretching exercises to ease the current condition, promote healing, and to prevent it from recurring.
What you can do (as a writer) at home is the following:
- Keep your PC screen and mobile device at eye level
- Keep your ears above your shoulders, your shoulders above your hips when you’re sitting
- Keep both feet on a solid surface
- Take regular breaks from your sitting position
- Do regular exercises to stretch and strengthen your core muscles
- Limit your time on your mobile device
- Learn touch typing
It is also worth noting here how sitting for long periods of time affect our bodies negatively in the long run. There are multiple articles on this topic that are interesting and they are sending out a warning to all people with sitting jobs.
So, do you still want to be a writer? 😀
Disclaimer: I am not a health care professional (at least, not for humans) and all my information was gathered from the internet.
Banner photo by Clem Onojeghuo from Unplash, edited by Jacky Dahlhaus