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Text Neck Symptoms and Diagnosis

Man holding neck in pain

Text neck symptoms commonly include one or more of the following:

Pain in the neck, upper back, and/or shoulder. This pain may be located in one specific spot and feel intense or stabbing, or it may be a general achiness and soreness that covers a broader region, such as spanning from the bottom of the neck and into the shoulder(s).

Forward head posture and rounded shoulders. Muscles in the neck, chest, and upper back can become deconditioned and imbalanced due to prolonged forward head posture. This deconditioning can make it difficult to maintain good posture with the ears directly over the shoulders.

Reduced mobility. The neck, upper back, and shoulders may all experience some tightness and reduced mobility.

Headache. Muscles at the base of the neck could go into spasm and become painful, or pain could also be referred from the neck up into the head. Excessive amounts of time looking at screens, regardless of posture, may also increase the risk for eyestrain and headache.

Increased pain when neck flexion. Text neck symptoms tend to worsen when the neck is flexed forward into the position that originally caused the problem, such as while looking down and texting.

Where and how pain is felt can vary from case to case. For example, someone who primarily looks at a phone screen while using both hands (or no hands if it is lying on a table or lap) may be more susceptible to having pain evenly distributed on both sides of the neck and/or upper back, whereas someone who uses one hand may have more pain on one side due to using or straining those muscles more.

Less Common Symptoms Associated with Text Neck

Some other symptoms where the prolonged forward head tilting of text neck may play a contributing role include:

Cervical radiculopathy. Symptoms of electric shock-like pain, pins-and-needles tingling, numbness, and/or weakness may radiate from the neck down into the shoulder, arm, and/or hand. Cervical radiculopathy can occur when a cervical nerve root becomes irritated or compressed, such as from spinal changes related to degenerative disc disease or osteoarthritis. Severe cases of text neck may accelerate or worsen this process.

Balance issues. Prolonged amounts of time in a forward head posture have been linked to reduced balance control, due to the head’s center of gravity migrating further in front of the body. This process can result in muscle imbalances and postural control changes in the neck and torso.

Jaw pain. A misalignment in the cervical spine and/or muscle imbalances may lead to jaw pain, or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it might be a good idea to check in with your chiropractor. Text Neck causes misalignments of the vertebrae in the neck (cervical spine) and upper back, so it is only natural to go to a chiropractor since they are trained to adjust the vertebrae in your spine, so it is correctly aligned.

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