“Text neck,” experts tell us, is a growing epidemic. People are spending more time with their heads bent down to look at their smartphone or tablet, adding significant stress to their neck, leading to neck pain, back pain, and jaw pain.
TMJ can exacerbate this condition, causing worse pain even with only moderate time spent with the neck bent.
Bending the Neck Increases the Strain
Your head and neck are built to support your head at an upright position. As the head bends forward, it acts like a lever that increases the force necessary to support your head, by a lot.
How much? The human head weighs about 10-12 pounds. Bending your head just 15 degrees means the neck muscles have to support the equivalent of 27 pounds. At 30 degrees, it increases to 40 pounds. At 45 degrees, it increases to 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees, your neck muscles are supporting the equivalent of 60 pounds.
You might think this isn’t that big an issue because you just look down for a quick moment or two, but it adds up. Experts estimate that the average person spends 700-1400 hours a year looking down at their phones, and heavy users (mostly teens) can spend up to 6400 hours a year like this. That’s a lot of time with a lot of extra weight.
How to Ease Text Neck
There are many things you can do to to help ease text neck. Here are a few tips:
- Look down with your eyes: Tilting your eyes down can reduce or eliminate bending
- Hold the phone up or further in front: These will reduce the amount of bending you do
- Set up a phone or tablet station at work: If your desk or cubicle will support your phone at a more comfortable angle
- Use different postures: Try lying back with the phone supported above or in front of you when at home
- Exercise your neck: Bend your neck from side to side, backwards, and in a rotary motion to stretch and exercise neck muscles
These can help reduce the risk of developing text neck.
How TMJ Can Contribute to Text Neck
Text neck is caused by your muscles having difficulty supporting your head. TMJ can make this worse because improper jaw position can decrease the efficiency of your jaw and neck muscles, leading to more soreness in the neck, back, and jaw.
If you’ve tried a number of strategies to ease your text neck but aren’t getting good results, TMJ treatment can help.
To learn whether TMJ is contributing to your text neck, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment with a Columbia, SC TMJ dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry today.