'Text neck' warning

Cleveland Clinic chiropractor explains signs, offers advice to avoid damage

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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Many of us spend hours each day looking down at our portable electronic devices and sometimes it's a pain in the neck, literally.

"This constant stress on the backside of your head muscles creates this posture, which then creates pain in the neck," explained Dr. Andrew Bang, a chiropractor at Cleveland Clinic.

An adult head weighs 10 to 12 pounds and frequently looking down adds pressure and weight on your neck and spine and can lead to injury.

"It can lead to degenerative disk disease which is irreversible, bone spurs start to grow, people get pinched nerves or herniated disks and that can lead to really intense pain,"Bang said.

Bang says your neck should have a nice gentle "banana-like" curve but he's starting to see that curve straighten out in people who are constantly looking down at handheld devices.

It can also happen if you drive or use the computer for long periods of time. If you lose that curve, you could be in store for some major neck problems. Fortunately, by changing your posture and how you view your devices, you can avoid potential long term damage.

"First of all, put it away, it can wait five minutes," advised Bang. "Give your neck a break, but if you need to use it, take it and bring it up to eye level so that your head still stays on top of your shoulders instead of stooping down looking at your lap."

If you have muscle tightness or fatigue or find yourself feeling like you need to crack your neck, shrug or crunch up your shoulders, it may be an early warning sign for "text neck" and time to seek the help of a professional.

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