Does your neck hurt from using your phone? That pain-in-the-neck is trying to get your attention.
In addition to neck pain, bending your neck for too long may also cause upper shoulder pain and headaches. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies describes a link between headaches and poor posture from using electronic devices.
“Texting Neck Syndrome,” also called forward head posture, can not only lead to chronic pain but can also be an important clue to the existence of underlying health issues. For example, cervical spine (neck) problems could be an indicator of low thyroid in women and low testosterone in men.
Looking down for an extended period of time puts a person at risk of overstretching the supporting muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the cervical spine. These elastic structures should recoil back to normal, but there are many reasons why the connective tissue in the neck doesn’t rebound, including:
- Disc problems
- Facet Arthritis
- Hypermobility Syndromes
- Hormonal Changes
- Chronic Infection
- Altered Metabolism
- Nutritional Deficiencies
- Emotional Stress
Many people “carry stress” in their neck which presents as pain and can cause real physiological changes.
A case example is John, a 50-year-old man with neck pain, headaches, upper shoulder pain, and grinding sensations when he turns his head which he calls “snap-crackle-pop” noises. John saw a massage therapist who told him that his neck and shoulder muscles are extremely tight. Despite taking Advil and a prescription muscle relaxant, Flexeril, his symptoms did not improve.
As a supervisor of a multistate technology company, John is texting on his phone all day. An x-ray of his neck was relatively normal with mild arthritic changes of the facet joints. Although he thought it was unrelated, previous lab tests revealed low testosterone levels. Since massage was ineffective and his busy schedule could not accommodate a course of physical therapy, he chose to undergo two sessions of regenerative injections with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) in the tendons and ligaments of the cervical spine. John’s symptoms improved but were likely to come back if he didn’t address his testosterone deficiency. After additional testing, he also chose to treat his low testosterone symptoms with Testosterone Pellets. Testosterone Pellets are small tablets of bioidentical hormone which are placed under the skin (typically in the buttock area) which dissolve over a few months and deliver a steady supply of hormone replacement.
Neck problems are best treated by a multidisciplinary team. At the Kaplan Center, our team of providers includes specialists in acupuncture, osteopathic manipulation, hormone replacement, rehabilitation medicine, physical therapy, immune function, and nutritional support and supplementation. In addition to managing the root causes of postural muscle weakness, regenerative medicine strategies including prolotherapy, platelet-rich plasma, and, in some cases, stem cell injections have been very successful for the treatment of neck pain related to texting and poor posture. In my experience, a combination of treatment strategies works best.
Don’t ignore the message. Comprehensive treatment is key to long-lasting results.