Text neck: Is your smartphone causing pain?


Our bodies weren't designed to spend all day looking down at a screen. Yet that’s exactly what many of us do with our frequent use of handheld devices. Research suggests that people spend an average of five hours a day looking at their phones. And while the younger generation are arguably the worst offenders, it’s a modern malady that is affecting all ages.

At The Urban Physio we’ve had many people presenting with this problem, which can lead to serious neck and back pain, and even longer-term damage. Because it’s so prevalent (and as there is no traditional Latin name for it!), it even has its own buzzword - ‘text neck’ or ‘ihunch’.

What are the symptoms of text neck?

  • Instant upper back or neck pain when using a handheld device.

  • Nagging or sharp pain in the neck or shoulders at the end of the day.

  • General shoulder pain and tightness.

  • Intermittent or constant headache made worse when looking down or using the computer.

  • Pins and needles or numbness down one or both arms.


Keep text neck at bay by moving during the day:

  • Take a break every 30 minutes. This could be as simple as getting up for a glass of water or going to the printer.

  • Vary your day between sitting and standing. You don’t need a fancy standing desk to achieve this, it could be as simple as holding your next meeting as a ‘stand up’ with people gathered around a leaner table.

  • If you’re going to be in a fixed position for extended periods of time, be aware of your posture and reassess regularly, especially if you’re texting on a phone or tablet.

  • When you are texting, hold the phone high and directly in front of your face.

  • Use alternative methods to texting like voice recognition or make phone calls when possible.

  • Keep active. From taking a short walk in your lunch hour to a weekend hike, moving on a regular basis is important for all aspects of your health.

Physiotherapists can help

If you’re having issues with your neck or upper back, a Physiotherapist can help you relieve the symptoms, identify the cause and advise you on how to avoid these issues recurring.

If you spend extended periods using cellphones or other handheld devices, a Physiotherapist can give you techniques to avoid ‘iHunch’ and ‘text neck’. Your Physio can also examine your posture and provide tailored guidance.

Don’t let your handheld device be a pain in the neck - click below to make an appointment or call 09 216 7799 to discuss how The Urban Physio can support your wellness for an urban lifestyle.