A new phenomenon is causing orthopaedic surgeons to warn patients about the perils of texting….’text neck’.

It seems that we are increasingly seeking medical advice for back, shoulder and neck pain and one of the causes is the use of tablets and smartphones which we use for up to several hours a day.

This problem is particularly prevalent amongst teenagers to the point that Dr Kenneth Hansraj, chief of spine surgery in a new York medical centre, has written a paper about the forces felt by the neck whilst being held at an unnatural angle.

He states that when the head is held at 60 degrees, the weight of the head is felt as 5 times its actual mass which can lead not only to pain but also curvature of the spine.

Dr Hansraj advises his patients to change their posture when using their smartphones and tablets by encouraging them to hold the device higher up and angle their eyes down rather than their neck.

Dr Chris Cornett, another orthopaedic surgeon says: “When you hold your body in an abnormal position, it can increase stress on the muscles, cause fatigue, muscle spasms and even stress headaches.  With every degree of motion to the front or side that you move your head, the stress on your neck is magnified beyond just the weight of the head.”

Both surgeons recommend these easy tips to help the problem:

  • Modify the position of the device and alter the position of your neck and head during usage
  • Take frequent breaks – if your neck is hurting, your body is trying to tell you to stop!
  • Be aware that you’re using these technology devices throughout the day and force yourself to take a break and to change or alter your position.
  • To keep the joints in your neck limber, move your head from left to right several times and touch your ear to your shoulder on both sides.
  • Another simple exercise is to place your hands on your head to provide some resistance as you push your head forward, and do the same as your push your head back. This strengthens the ligaments and muscles that support your neck.

Tone’s ChiroMoves app and DVD have a series of easy exercises to help strengthen the neck and shoulders and alleviate muscle pain and spasm: