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Text Neck: The Epidemic that’s Sweeping the Nation….

Whether or not you’ve heard of ‘Text Neck’ before, chances are you have probably seen someone with it.

This newly adopted condition is described as having a variety of symptoms that have resulted from excessively watching or texting on mobile devices over a sustained period of time. The culprits? We’re looking at you smartphones, tablets, and pocket video-game devices.

Similar to the picture above, the tell-tale sign of Text Neck is the forward head posture ….AKA – when looking at someone from the side, the head is so far forward their ears are no longer in line with the shoulders.

As a result of the repetitive stress on the neck, common complaints of this issue include:

  1. Pain or stiffness at the neck, around the top of the shoulders, and/or between the shoulder blades
  2. Headaches / Migraines
  3. Radiating Pain* into the shoulders or arms
  4. Weakness* of the muscles in the back, shoulders, and arms
    *If you are currently experiencing these symptoms, tell your physician and/or trust physical therapist

Of course, you might have a forward-head-posture and still not have any of these symptoms at all. And while poor posture might seem like a harmless side-effect to the joys of watching videos on your phone, the long term implications are alarming.

Take a look at the image below to grasp the negative effects Text Neck can have on the muscles and ligaments in this area.

It stunned me to see that while your head weighs ~10 lbs on average, just a small tilt forward can result in almost a 3x increase in stress on the neck just to keep your head up… And that’s only 15 degrees!!!

Am I the only one who just sat up nice and tall…

In the long term, some other potential effects include:

  1. Abnormal spinal curvatures such as ‘flat-back’ or increased thoracic kyphosis
  2. Spinal disc compression and herniation
  3. Spinal arthritis
  4. Loss of lung capacity
  5. Muscle weakness —ultimately leading to worsened posture

So the big question…What should I do?

While our society is continuously pushing everyone to use their electronic devices more and more frequently, its unrealistic to try and stop using your phones altogether. Instead think about your typical phone-usage throughout your day and when possible:

  1. Work to stay in positions that keep your phone at your eye level rather than always looking down
  2. Become familiar with the voice-activation features on your device for texting, e-mails, and internet searching
  3. Keep the text size on your device at an appropriate level so that you can see without increased strain on your eyes
  4. Schedule specific-times throughout your day or set multiple reminders to disconnect from your device
  5. Perform several neck stretches and shoulder exercises to keep your back muscles strong and to maintain your neck mobility in each direction.

-For an individualized evaluation of your posture and specific recommendations for which stretches and exercises will be most helpful for your posture, come on down to Action Potential and speak to a trusted physical therapist!

Lastly, ALWAYS REMEMBER TO BE SAFE when using your mobile device! Hopefully the people in this video won’t need that reminder anymore….     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYgTM1pPjKQ

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  1. Hussain, S. Text Neck: A modern Epidemic. Greater Kashmir. Mar 28 2017. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/op-ed/text-neck-a-modern-epidemic/244920.html.
  2. Mishler, B. ‘iHunch’ or ‘text neck’ got you Down?. Hunt Regional Medical Partners. March 10 2016. http://huntregionalmedicalpartners.org/text-neck-got-you-down/

Picture credits:

  1. http://huntregionalmedicalpartners.org/text-neck-got-you-down/
  2. https://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/op-ed/text-neck-a-modern-epidemic/244920.html

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