By Anthony Rojo, DC
One of the many reasons that bring people into our office is because they are sick and tired of having headaches all the time. Many of us have been in this situation- we wake up in the morning, and the first thing we do is check our emails on our phone, see what the weather is going to be like, and check the latest political fiasco on our favorite news network. We typically are feeling great, go about our morning routine, and sometime after lunch, it hits . . . headache again! It is uncomfortable, annoying, and just wears you out physically. Tension headaches are the most common types of headaches that millions suffer on a daily basis.
Where does all this tension come from?
One of the main reasons we have so much neck/head tension is that we live in a world where we are constantly connected to our smart phones, checking the latest tweets and Instagram pictures on social media, researching lunch specials for a meetup, or finding directions to your child’s French horn tutor. In fact, unknown to the majority of us, we are damaging our necks and causing pain from constantly looking down at our cell phones, tablets and other devices too frequently. There is even a cute name for this phenomenon called “text neck”. Text neck is a Modern age term coined to describe repeated stress injury and pain in the neck resulting from excessive watching or texting on hand held devices over a sustained period of time.(1)In today’s word, mobile technology has progressed to the point where more and more people are spending an increased amount of time on their devices, which results in prolonged flexion of the neck while looking at the devices resulting in “text neck”. (1)
When you stop and consider that the human head weighs around 10-12 pounds, the constant bending forward and down on the neck adds tremendous amount of weight on the neck and upper back. At a 15 degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 45 degrees its 50 pounds and at 60 degrees it’s a whopping 60 pounds! (1)(2) One of the main symptoms you may feel when suffering from text neck is headaches. These headaches can range anywhere from dull and achy to severe pounding and can last anywhere from a few hours to several days.Just to give you an idea, imagine carrying around an 8 year old child around on your neck for several hours per day- The average person uses their smart phone or other device 2-4 hours per day. That’s 700-1400 hours per year of people putting an unnatural amount of stress on their spines. Teenagers spend more time on devices than the average person and can spend an additional 5,000 hours in these unforgiving positions.(2)It’s no surprise that so many people are suddenly having neck and head issues when they start using smartphones.
Some other symptoms of text neck include having a sore neck. After long uses of a device, it’s not uncommon to have difficulty moving the neck in its normal range of motion. Pain can be localized to one specific area or it can be dispersed over a larger portion of the neck, usually the lower part. Dull achy pain can lead to sharp stabbing pain in more extreme cases, and may even radiate down to the shoulders, arms and hands. Over time, the early onset of osteoarthritis, spinal degeneration, disc compression, and muscle weakness can manifest itself to those that don’t take preventative measures with proper spinal hygiene.
So, what can you do to prevent this condition in your life?
Obviously prevention is the best medicine! You should be aware of how often you are using your devices. Take frequent breaks by turning your smartphone off, and going for a walk around your neighborhood. You can even jump on your bicycle and let the cool air blow through your hair. Not only will you be giving your brain a chance to reset itself, but you will be getting exercise, which helps your body produce endorphins to help relieve stress, decreasing your chances of getting a tension headache. Exercising will also help you sleep better- It’s a win – win! Another tip to use when on a device is to try to set it so that it’s at eye level. Make sure you do not have to bend your neck forward to look at the device. This will save you from putting an unnatural amount of weight on your neck which causes tight neck and shoulder muscles.
Of course, going to your favorite chiropractor can help prevent or drastically reduce the chances of getting text neck! Chiropractic is the world’s best kept secret. In my office, my goal is to restore the proper motion, improve spinal function and remove interferences from the nervous system in your spine. When you have a misalignment and dysfunction of one of the bones in your neck, this can compromise the normal functioning of your nerves and can significantly trigger headaches or migraines, among all those other health conditions we talked about. I correct these misalignments or subluxations with a very gentle, specific, adjustment. Our office is specifically trained to deliver the most gentle and effective care. Most patients in our office notice immediate relief following their first adjustment, but sometimes it takes a little longer for others to respond, depending on a number of factors.
We take the care we provide seriously, which means we offer specific, gentle and affordable chiropractic adjustments so that everyone in the Flathead Valley has the opportunity to express their fullest health potential to be who they were born to be…..awesome!