Usually, people refer to an annoying situation or person as a ‘pain in the neck.’ But you might not be inclined to making such observations when you physically experience neck pain. It is irritating and uncomfortable and can affect your lifestyle, causing you to refrain from some of your daily activities. There are various reasons for neck pain, but the recent phenomenon of using a smartphone extensively may be affecting your neck muscles, causing stiffness and pain with every movement.
How is Smartphone Use Related to Neck Pain?
Technology is a blessing. And today, work and entertainment are impossible without the ubiquitous smartphone. Try as you might, you cannot throw your phone away and return to the old ways now.
Holding the phone against the crick of your neck and talking for hours is quite common. Sadly, it comes with some not-so-pleasant consequences. The strain occurs from maintaining this posture without respite. Using your smartphone without a break can cause a niggling neck pain that persists unless you seek treatment. Also referred to as a tech neck or text neck, this type of injury is becoming increasingly common. You may feel a slight pain every now and then, and ignoring it will likely aggravate the condition.
Common Symptoms of a Text Neck
- Pain in the neck region, upper back, and shoulder: You may experience pain in one spot with the intensity increasing on touch. It resembles a jab that makes you wince and move your neck. You may also feel a dull throbbing pain resembling an ache that spreads from one side of the neck to your shoulders and back.
- Muscle deconditioning: You might have muscle deconditioning that leads to weakness in the corresponding muscles due to a sedentary lifestyle. Keeping your head forward results in an unbalanced posture, leading to neck pain.
- Reduced mobility: The muscles in your neck, back, and shoulders may tighten and become rigid, causing you to feel pain with every movement. It may restrict your mobility.
- Painful Flexion: The pain usually gets worse when your neck moves forward while speaking on the phone. You may also feel that the pain increases when you look down continuously to text or play games.
- Headache: Spending an enormous amount of time looking at your smartphone may cause your neck muscles to spasm suddenly. This is a painful condition with the neck pain moving upwards, causing headaches.
Do You Need to Visit a Doctor for Neck Pain?
Do not ignore the condition if the pain becomes excruciating and affects your daily activities. Visit the doctor if the pain becomes frequent and you have severe headaches regularly. Do seek urgent medical attention if you think the pain is moving down towards your arms and hands.
How to Prevent Neck Pain When Using a Smartphone?
- Keep the phone raised: Do not look down every time you need to use the phone. Raise it to the eye level instead to avoid engaging your neck and shoulder muscles excessively.
- Take breaks: Do not remain hooked to the smartphone or any other electronic device constantly. Get up from your position and walk around to take a break. It will provide much-needed respite that relaxes your mind and rejuvenates your body.
- Stand straight: You may ask your doctor for advice on the right posture. It is best to tuck your chin in and keep the shoulders back with your entire body in a straight line.
- Stretch: You will experience some relief from neck pain when you arch your neck and back once in a while.
Best Treatments for Neck Pain Caused by Smartphone Use
You may want some relief from the pain you experience. Doctors suggest the application of an ice or heat pack over the area to alleviate the discomfort. Some of the other treatments worth trying include:
- Pain Relief Medication: You may find pain medication to be highly effective but do not self medicate without a doctor’s prescription.
- Home Exercises: Follow a regimen of home exercises that include stretching and arching your neck and back muscles. However, giving up after a day or two will not work. It is advisable to exercise regularly to reduce recurrence.
- Prescription Medicines: Your doctor may prescribe stronger pain-relieving drugs when mild medication fails to provide relief. Muscle relaxants may help your condition if you have deconditioning or experience muscle tightness.
- Physical Therapy: Attend therapy sessions and exercise under the supervision of an experienced therapist. You can attain the correct posture and get pain relief, with the chances of recurrence reduced considerably.
- Traction: Your doctor may advise a more rigorous form of treatment for neck pain if the condition is aggravated. A physiotherapist may use several types of equipment to reduce the pain using traction. Traction uses multiple weights and pulleys to stretch the affected muscles in the neck, providing relief. Patients diagnosed with nerve root irritation usually need traction for pain relief.
Avoiding smartphones or handheld devices is impossible today. Unfortunately, smartphones can cause neck pain. While it is rarely serious, doctors recommend limiting the use of mobile phones and regular physical exercises while maintaining the right posture. OTC medications provide quick pain relief to most patients.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I know if my smartphone is causing neck pain?
You may be suffering pain due to the excessive use of mobile phones, especially if you keep looking down at the screen. Maintain the right posture and hold the phone at eye level if you need to use it.
How is my posture related to neck pain?
You need not speak on your phone for hours to develop neck pain. Instead, staring at your phone’s screen continuously when texting and browsing the internet results in a hunched position that puts pressure on your neck and back muscles. The lowered gaze and rounded shoulders affect the muscles and irritate the nerve endings. You experience pain as a result of this.
What kind of neck pain is called a text neck?
This is a stress injury of the neck muscles caused by the overuse of handheld devices, such as smartphones and tabs. It causes you to look down at the screen for long hours at a stretch. While the term text neck denotes texting, this condition can be related to all kinds of activities performed with the aid of a mobile device.