Illustration 1 (Taken from Dr Kenneth K. Hansraj, N.Y. Spine Surgery & Rehabilitative Medicine). The head weighs around 10 to 12 lbs in sitting or standing. When the spine is bent forward at various degrees, weight is added on. An adult head weighs approximately 8 percent of a person’s body weight – that’s about 10-12 pounds when held in the neutral position. At 15 degrees, 27 pounds is added to the spine. At 30 degrees, 40 pounds is added and at 45 degrees, 49 pounds is put against the neck.
Physio Fact #2: Text neck is a Pain in the Neck!
- Over the course of the day – for months, years or decades - most people tend to neglect their posture. This is of course, because people don’t see themselves looking down at their hand held devices and their relatives, friends or acquaintances are too courteous to point out their poor posture (or could it be they are also on their mobile devices?)
- At work, home or play - for hours on end - anything less than an optimal posture will commonly aggravate pain or symptoms in the neck or back.
- Text neck can be a “Pain in the Neck!”
- The most basic way of understanding this, is that the supporting structures in the front of our neck will become tight and the structures at the back of our neck, become overstretched.
- Structural changes will show in the muscles, ligaments and discs supporting the spine, and mostly is unnoticeable to the untrained eye.
- Many people self-correct their posture when they are in front of the mirror. However, this is only for a fraction of their daily life.
Physio Fact #3: Text neck is Reversible!
- It can be progressive. It can also be reversible.
- Generally, the earlier you seek proper treatment, the better. \
- To ease less serious symptoms, sometimes just having some postural awareness and doing some postural exercise, is all that is needed.
Degenerative changes in the spine (that normally occur with progressing age), now show earlier on X Rays or MRI films (refer to illustration 2) [link with section ABOVE]. These changes have been known to be closely associated with 1) referred pain, 2) numbness and 3) irreversible nerve damage… a big and serious “pain in the neck”! [link with “Pain in the neck” section ABOVE] Don’t wait for these changes to happen!