They are seen everywhere: people hunched over their cell phones and other mobile devices. You may have told your teenagers repeatedly to not hunch over their cell phones or they could hurt their necks... only to be met with rolling eyes and snickers. The truth of the matter is that hunching over cell phones and other devices can cause what is being called "texting neck", which can be rather painful.
Fortunately, correcting poor posture and strengthening the neck muscles may bring some relief to "texting neck" pain. Unfortunately, doing nothing can result in serious consequences over time. Here's what you need to know about how the natural curve of the neck is affected and what that could do.
Natural curve of the neck: lordotic curve
When healthy, the spine has natural, gentle curves. The role of the curves is to absorb stress from gravity and bodily movement. When the curves in the spine are damaged, inflammation in the disc spaces can occur, which can pinch nerves and send shooting pain through the area controlled by the nerve.
The part of the spine that is in the neck is called the cervical spine. In this area, the curve is called a lordotic curve, which is like a backward C. When someone hunches over their mobile devices, it puts stress on this natural curve and, essentially, can shift the curve to the opposite of what it should naturally be.
Unnatural curve of the neck: loss of cervical lordosis
Loss of cervical lordosis refers to a medical condition that no longer has the preferred curvature of the lordotic curve. Loss of lordosis can be caused by genetic conditions, trauma, or continual poor posture over time. This loss of lordosis is also referred to as forward head posture.
What's important to understand with this condition is that, in addition to the aches and pains associated with it, continuing poor posture habits with a loss of lordosis can cause kyphosis, which is the unnatural curvature of the upper back. Essentially, texting neck could cause a hunchback over time.
If you or your child has a pain in the neck and it's due to poor posture, an appointment with an orthopedic doctor will be necessary to determine whether or not any damage has been done to the cervical spine. Depending on the severity of the condition, spinal care and treatment may involve chiropractic adjustments, strengthening and conditioning, and/or surgical repair.