Is there such a thing as a text neck?

Yes. Text neck is painful and can change the shape of your spine.


With the popularity of gaming, digital tablets and the ever-present cell phone, text neck, or tech neck, is a condition orthopedic clinicians are seeing more often.

An adult’s head weighs approximately ten pounds and sits atop seven cervical vertebrae from the base of the skull to upper back between the shoulders. When you look down at a book, a hand-held electronic device or needlework, your head moves forward from an aligned spine. For every inch your head moves forward, spinal pressure increases to cause neck, shoulder and back pain.

A study by Kenneth Hansraj reported that moving your head forward at a 15-degree angle adds approximately 27 pounds of pressure to your spine. If you look down at a 60-degree angle like most people do when they read a text, your head becomes the equivalent of a 60-pound weight.

When a person holds his or her head down and forward for a prolonged time, the shape of the spine can actually change. Of course, this change creates pressure points and abnormalities in the cervical spine that cause pain and discomfort.

With the advance of hand-held technology, Affinity Orthopedics has seen an increased incidence of muscle strains, pinched nerves and herniated cervical discs. People who have text neck also show early signs of arthritis in the cervical spine. The signs and symptoms of text neck include:

  • neck pain
  • headaches
  • shoulder pain or tightness
  • numbness or tingling in the arms

Neck stress increases your risk for poor posture, spinal reshaping, degeneration of the spine and permanent orthopedic problems. In recent years, Affinity Orthopedics has treated young people who have actually reversed the natural curvature of their spines and caused permanent orthopedic problems.

To prevent text neck, practice good posture while sitting or standing. Remember to keep your head up and your eyes forward. It may take a bit of getting used to, but holding your phone out in front of you instead of holding it in your lap will save you from future neck and back pain.

If you are experiencing headaches, neck pain or numbness and tingling in your neck and shoulders, request an appointment with an orthopedic specialist. Call (920) 996-3700 or request an appointment online. 

Acension Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Center

Madison Center at Ascension St. Elizabeth Hospital
1531 S. Madison St.
4th floor
Appleton, WI 54915
(920) 996-3700

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1506 S. Oneida St
Appleton, WI 54915
(920) 738-2000

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