We all love our cell phones and mobile devices! From children to teenagers, middle aged adults to seniors, all of us enjoy the benefits, fun, and conveniences these mobile devices offer. The curved posture we tend to take when using our mobile device though, actually causes health issues such as headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain and more. The term Text Neck was created to describe this condition that can develop from frequent texting.
Of course it isn’t just when we are texting that we take that forward head posture. We spend hours and hours hunched in front of our computers, looking at our tablets, our readers, our media players, and our games. Even sleeping with high pillows contributes to the problem. The forward head posture that occurs with Text Neck is actually a health condition that occurs due to the position of the head as it moves forward from the center of the shoulders. As the head moves forward the center of gravity changes. This causes an increase in pressure on the musculature over the head and shoulders because of the downward angle and weight of the head while texting. The more the head shifts forward, the greater the pressure around the neck area. This pressure also increases when in this head forward posture for prolonged periods of time. The frequent and prolonged flexion of the neck causes changes in the cervical spine, the curve of the neck, and the structures that support the neck. These structures include the muscles, the ligaments and the tendons.
Text Neck and Arthritis
Text neck can eventually lead to arthritic degeneration of the cervical spine. Forward head posture stretches the ligaments that hold the vertebrae together. When the ligaments get overstretched from this posture and for prolonged periods, they become weakened. With weakened, stretched out and loose ligaments, the vertebrae move more than normal, putting more pressure on the discs between the vertebrae. Sometimes they move out of normal position. This is called subluxation. Chiropractors can manipulate the vertebrae back into place, but because the ligaments remain weak and stretched out, the fix is only temporary. This process leads to degeneration of the discs as well as degeneration where the different vertebrae meet, called the facet joint. Text neck with this forward head posture accelerates the aging and degeneration of the intervertebral joints, resulting in degenerative joint disease of the cervical spine.
When spinal tissues are exposed to continued compression or stress, they deform and go through a transformation that can become permanent. This process is also called “creep.” Creep is a medical condition that results from the elongation of the ligaments that hold our bones together due to long-term tension upon them. This can be caused by various types of bad posture, including the forward head posture involved in text neck. As we have seen, if this goes on for too long, the ligaments will stretch to the point of no return. In our neck, we have seven vertebrae that are held together by ligaments. Text neck causes these ligaments to get too lose, to the point where they can no longer hold these seven vertebrae together. The bones shift and can pinch other nearby structures causing some of the symptoms of text neck. Since the ligaments aren’t able to hold the bones together, the muscles will try to this job. Since it’s a job they are not meant to do, muscle spasms will occur along with more of the symptoms of text neck.
Common symptoms may include tightness across the shoulders, headaches, and neck soreness. Also pain in the back, arms, fingers, hands, wrists, and elbows. Some sufferers may also notice numbness and tingling in their upper extremities.
What can I do for Text Neck?
Of course, prevention is ideal, by keeping your spine and posture maximized and healthy. However, once text neck has advanced, and the ligaments are stretched out, treatment to strengthen the ligaments is what is needed. Prolotherapy is the treatment that strengthens and repairs weakened and damaged ligaments.
By injecting a dextrose solution at the location of the stretched out ligaments and loose vertebral structures, Prolotherapy causes a mild inflammatory response in that area. This localized reaction directed at the source of the problem-the ligaments, stimulates a healing cascade. Blood flow is increased to the damaged area, as are cells the body needs for regeneration and repair. Ligaments are made of collagen, and part of this wound healing cascade includes deposits of collagen. When this new collagen matures the ligaments get tighter and stronger. Once strengthened, the ligaments are once again able to do their job of holding the vertebrae in place. The muscles will be able to relax, the spasms will stop, and the vertebrae will no longer move excessively. The symptoms of Text Neck will resolve because the ligaments are tightened.