Monday, May 2, 2016

A Pain In The Teenage Neck

I recently had to have physical therapy for some pain, stiffness and "clicking" in my neck. (Yes, that's a thing. A 54-year-old thing.) With a handful of sessions, some daily exercises and an increase in "postural awareness," I'm feeling significantly better. And, looking on the bright side (because what, after all, is the alternative?), at least I don't have "text neck."

Text neck, which the Washington Post recently referred to as "an epidemic," is ...

"... the term used to describe the neck pain and damage sustained from looking down at your cell phone, tablet, or other wireless devices too frequently and for too long. Children and teens are especially at risk for suffering symptoms of text neck."

My own teenage daughter is a voracious texter, but I don't think she has text neck. Happily, she spends a considerable part of each day working with horses. This can lead to many injuries, sore muscles, bumps, bruises, the occasional concussion, even "horse hickeys," but it does preclude one from all-day every-day texting and, consequently, the dreaded text neck.

(This is just another reason why all those payments to the stable have been worth it. Well, this and the fact that there are virtually no boys there at all, of which fact I remind my husband on a regular basis.)

Anyway ...

Text neck, or more officially "Text Neck Overuse Syndrome" is characterized by:

Upper back pain, from chronic, nagging to sharp, severe.

• Shoulder pain, tightness and possibly muscle spasms.

• Pinched nerves and pain radiating down arm, into hand.


And, if all of this doesn't sound sufficiently UN-pleasant, text neck may lead to arthritis later in life.

I repeat, OMG.

So what's a texting teen to do? According to Spine Health, there are steps to take that can counter the negative effects of text neck:

• Lift the phone to eye level. 

• Take frequent breaks. (Like that's gonna happen.)

• Change position. For example, lie on your back.

• Focus on maintaining upright, neutral posture.

• Stretch and arch your back periodically.

• Exercise to build strength in your back and neck. 

All of this is fairly common-sensical, right? The problem is, in human nature and teen nature in particular, common sense is anything but common. I'm a few years (okay, a few decades) past my teens, but I didn't address the pain in my neck until it actually was a pain in my neck.

As parents, we may think that teens texting is a pain in the neck. But the teens themselves don't.

Or at least, they don't yet
If you've enjoyed this post, I invite you to order the book Lovin' the Alien here.   



  1. Or how 'bout--get rid of the cell phone . . . Heavens.

  2. Thank you for taking some time to write this post. Here is another website with text neck help. Read more about text neck exercises here to learn more.

  3. Thank you for an interesting post. I’ve never heard of "Text Neck Overuse Syndrome" but I definitely recognize those symptoms. Turns out that text neck does not affect just teens. I definitely need to be more aware of how I hold my phone while using it. I appreciate you bringing that to light for me.