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Text Neck Syndrome


Sore neck? Your phone might be to blame!

Learning outcomes

Here are what you are expected to learn after this session!


Reflect on daily phone usage

Acknowledge the current trend of phone usage among teenagers.Reflect personal phone usage pattern and make appropriate changes.


Adopt a correct posture when using phone

Learn the proper posture when using electronic devices .


Practise exercises the relieve neck pain

Perform practices that prevents and relieves text neck syndrome.


Learn the anatomy of the neck

Understand the basic anatomy of the neck, including the cervical spine and relevant muscle groups. Relate how the anatomy of the neck give rise to its function


Explain what is text neck syndrome

Describe what is text neck syndrome, how it is developed and its symptoms.Explain how the the anatomy of the neck is related to the condition.

Before we begin, let's take a minute to answer a few questions

Before we begin, let's take a minute to answer a few questions

Reflecting from the short survey, Are you overusing your phone like your peers?

Young people aged 16-24 in the UK has an average daily screen time of 5 hours! They use their phones for communication with friends, entertainment, social media, gaming and learning etc.

If you ever felt neck pain after prolonged usage of your phone, you probably have TEXT NECK SYNDROME!

So what is 'text neck syndrome'?

It is a clinical condition associated with prolonged usage of phones It can feel like...

It is basically a neck condition you get from too much texting!

  • Sharp pain or soreness in the neck and shoulders
  • Tightness of the neck and shoulders
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Headache
  • Pain when you tilt your head forward

How does excessive phone usage lead to this syndrome?

To answer this question, we have to first understand the anatomy of the neck

First, what does the neck do?

To carry out these functions, the neck is structured a certain way ...

  1. Supports and stabilises the head
  2. Produce a wide range of movements
  3. Protects the spinal cord
  4. Contain important structures, like the trachea and oesophagus
  5. Contain blood vessels that supply blood to the brain

These two functions are our focus for this session

The cervical spine

Our body is supported by the spine, which is formed from 33 vertebras The spine is divided into sections: - Cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccygeal spine - They each consist of a certain number of vertebraThe cervical spine is the part of the spine within the neck - it has 7 vertebras, movement is allowed between each vertebrae - It is lordotic, which means it has a convex shape - It is capable of flexion, extension, lateral flexion and rotation

The spinal cord

There is an opening within the spine which houses the spinal cord, called the spinal canalThe spinal cord is a huge nerve that branches off into smaller nerves called spinal nerves, these nerves then travel to different body parts, controlling the motor and sensory functions of our body


Spinal nerves

Spinal cord within the spinal canal

Muscles supporting the neck

Muscles attach to bone and contracts to produce movement - Remember the neck can be flexed, extended, laterally flexed and rotated - Different muscle groups are responsible for these movements!A proper posture includes standing straight, and opening up the chest - This involves muscles of the neck, as well as muscles of the shoulder - These groups of muscles will be introduced in the following

Muscles that flex our neck

Longus capitus muscle

Scalene muscle

Longus colli muscle

Sternocleidomastoid muscle

Muscles that extend our neck

Erector spinae muscle

semispinalis colli muscle

Splenius capitus muscle

Muscles that move our shoulder


Levator scapulae muscle

Now we know the basic anatomy of the neck, before we move on...

Note that the names of the muscles are extra information, what's important is that- the muscle group in front of the neck contracts to produce flexion - the muscle group behind the neck contracts to produce extension - there are muscles that opens up the shoulder How these muscles are affected by poor posture will be explained in the following!

Rounded shoulder

Is this what you look like when you are using your phone?

Neck flexed

Phone at elbow level

Such improper posture increase stress on our neck. But How?

When we tilt our head forward to look at our phones, our neck is in hyperflexion With increased degree of neck flexion, the head becomes heavier relatively- At 0˚ flexion, that is the neutral position, the head weighs 5 kg- At 30˚ flexion, the head weighs 18 kg - At 60˚ flexion, the head weighs 27 kg

Under repeated stress, muscles of our neck become strained

When our neck is constantly hyperflexed- Neck flexors become tightened - Neck extensors become overstretched Also, our back is hunched, which means - Shoulder muscles are overstretched And to support the increased weight of our head- Muscles around the neck contracts- This results in muscle fatigue All of these results in muscle ache

It can even affect the spinal cord, damaging our nervous system!

Remember the spinal cord runs in the cervical spine? When the cervical spine is constantly hyperflexed, it can undergo degeneration and change in shape, thus pinching on the spinal cord or spinal nervesThis results in pain, or even sensory and motor deficits!

This explains the symptoms of text neck syndrome

  • Muscle strain leads to tightness, soreness and pain in the neck and shoulders
  • Muscle tightness and the uncomfortable sensations reduces our range of motion
  • Pain may radiate upwards, thus headache may be experienced
  • In worse cases, the pain can be neural due to the impingement of spinal nerves

Therefore, proper posture when using our phones is the key to preventing text neck!

Correct posture and practices when using our phones

  1. Place your phone or tablet to be at eye level to minimize the forward tilt of your head and neck.
  2. Take regular breaks from using your phone
  3. Avoid excessive usage of your phone
  4. Maintain a straight posture when sitting or standing
  5. Stretch and exercise your upper back and neck regularly

But its not only our phones...

Text neck can result from other activities if we have a bad posture, including ...

  • studying
  • reading a book
  • using a computer or laptop
  • etc.

So remember to maintain a good posture at all times and do NOT slouch!

Let's stand up and stretch our necks

Now this is coming to an end, you should have been staring at a screen for quite some time ...

Stretches to prevent and relieve text neck!

  • Lie down facing up, place a rolled up towel between the floor and your neck
  • Push down towards the floor
  • Hold for 5 seconds, relax and repeat for 3 times

1. Chin tuck

  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together and open up your chest
  • Hold for 5 seconds, relax and repeat for 10 times

2. Scapular squeeze

  • Sit down or stand up, tuck your chin backwards
  • Hold for 5 seconds, relax and repeat for 3 times

3. Chin tuck on the ground

  • Lie on the floor facing down, place a pillow under your chest and stomach
  • Place your hand on your lower back, then lift your upper body
  • Hold for 2 seconds, relax and repeat for 10 times

4. Back muscle exercise

Lastly, some of you might still think...

Sesiones de aprendizaje / 02

  • Be aware of your posture while using any electronic devices
  • Stretch and exercise regularly
  • Prevent excessive use of your phone
  • Go back to your learning outcomes and see if you achieved them!

Take-home messages

Tap to see references

Thank you!

Neupane, S., Ali, U. and Mathew, A., 2017. Text neck syndrome-systematic review. Imperial journal of interdisciplinary research, 3(7), pp.141-148. David, D., Giannini, C., Chiarelli, F. and Mohn, A., 2021. Text neck syndrome in children and adolescents. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(4), p.1565. Kumari, S., Kumar, R. and Sharma, D., 2021. Text neck syndrome: the pain of modern era. International Journal of Health Sciences and Research, 11(11), pp.161-165. Fares, J., Fares, M.Y. and Fares, Y., 2017. Musculoskeletal neck pain in children and adolescents: risk factors and complications. Surgical neurology international, 8. Ahmed, S., Akter, R., Pokhrel, N. and Samuel, A.J., 2021. Prevalence of text neck syndrome and SMS thumb among smartphone users in college-going students: a cross-sectional survey study. Journal of Public Health, 29, pp.411-416. Jo (2015) Text neck pain relief stretches. Available at https://www.askdoctorjo.com/text-neck-pain-relief-stretches/ (Accessed: 20 April 2023) Hiley C. (2022) Screen time report 2022. Available at https://www.uswitch.com/mobiles/screentime-report/ (Accessed 20 April 2023)