Text Neck

adrian wong physio

Article by J. Miller, A. Wong

What is Text Neck?

text neck

Text Neck is an overuse syndrome or a repetitive stress injury to the neck caused by holding your head in a forward and downward position for extended periods of time. When holding your head in this position, excessive amounts of tension are created in the deep muscles of your neck and across the shoulders causing both acute and chronic neck pain. Chronic cervicogenic headaches have also been linked to this condition.

The increased prevalence of these pains is due to the increasing popularity and hours people spend on handheld devices such as smartphones, e-readers, iPads and tablets. 

What Exactly Causes Text Neck?

When in an upright posture, when the ears are aligned with the centre of your shoulders, the weight of the average head exerts approximately 4.5 to 5.5 kgs of force through the muscles of the neck. But when your head is moved forward by only 2 to 3 cms away from this neutral position, the weight of your head dramatically increases. Approximately 6 times as much force can be generated!!! That's approximately 30kg - the same weight as an average 8-year-old, or 6 ten-pin bowling balls!!!

If left untreated, a 'text neck' can lead to the inflammation of the neck ligaments, nerve irritation and increased curvature in the spine. It can also develop an upper thoracic postural deformity known as a "dowagers" hump, which can result in alteration of the bone structure of your vertebrae in this region.

Signs and Symptoms of Text Neck

Text neck may have one or more of these signs and symptoms:

  • Instant or delayed-onset 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 or postural fatigue,
  • General shoulder pain and tightness,
  • Head forwards of neck posture,
  • Intermittent or constant headache made worse when looking down or using the computer.

Text Neck Treatment


Text neck is conservatively managed by your physiotherapist. The main aims of treatment are to reduce the tension within the neck muscles, reduce the pain within your neck and address the postures that aggravate your symptoms. This will normally involve postural awareness and strengthening exercises to correct for the future and prevent a recurrence.

After your physiotherapist has assessed your lifestyle, posture and your neck structures they will confirm the main issues causing your neck pain. They will utilise a range of treatments including

  • joint mobilisations
  • posture correction exercises
  • neck stabilisation exercises
  • postural taping techniques
  • posture brace
  • soft tissue massage
  • posture and ergonomic education
  • acupuncture
  • ... plus more

PHASE I - Reducing Pain & Inflammation

Pain and inflammation are strong inhibitors of normal muscle and joint movement. Pain is the main reason people seek treatment, and should be the first symptom to improve!

PHASE II - Restoring Normal ROM and Strength

As your pain settles, your physiotherapist will turn their attention to restoring your normal joint alignment and range of motion, including muscle length and resting tension, muscle strength and endurance. Your physiotherapist will assess your muscle recruitment pattern and prescribe the best exercises specific to your needs. They may also start you on a deep neck flexor and scapular/upper thoracic spine strengthening program to facilitate dynamic control of your neck and head.

Your physiotherapist may also recommend a stretching program or a remedial massage to address your tight or shortened muscles. Please ask your physiotherapist for their advice specific to your needs.

PHASE III - Restore Full Function

Depending on your lifestyle your physiotherapist will tailor your rehabilitation to allow you to return to your desired activities. Everyone has different demands that will determine what specific treatment goals you need to achieve.

PHASE IV - Preventing a Recurrence

Your physiotherapist will assist you in identifying the best way to restore and maintain good posture by providing you with posture awareness prompts, taping, posture fatigue braces and exercises for you to monitor your own progress indefinitely.

Other Options

Some liniments and creams, such as Fisiocrem or Flexall, can provide temporary muscular pain relief by rubbing the cream into the neck, shoulder or arm. For more information please consult your physiotherapist, pharmacist or doctor.

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Text Neck Related Conditions

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Bulging Disc
  • Cervical Radiculopathy
  • Cervicogenic Dizziness
  • Cluster Headaches
  • Cramps
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Facet Joint Pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Meniere's disease
  • Migraine
  • Muscle Strain
  • Neck Arm Pain
  • Neck Headache
  • Neck Sprain
  • Overuse Injuries
  • Pinched Nerve
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • RSI - Repetitive Strain Injury
  • Scoliosis
  • Spondylosis (Spine Arthritis)
  • Temporomandibular Joint Pain (TMJ)
  • Tension Headache
  • Text Neck
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Whiplash
  • Wry Neck

    Text Neck Treatment Options

  • Bed Rest
  • Early Injury Treatment
  • Avoid the HARM Factors
  • What to do after a Muscle Strain or Ligament Sprain?
  • Acupuncture and Dry Needling
  • Sub-Acute Soft Tissue Injury Treatment
  • Scapular Stabilisation Exercises
  • Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises
  • Biomechanical Analysis
  • Proprioception & Balance Exercises
  • Medications?
  • Ergonomics
  • Soft Tissue Massage
  • Brace or Support
  • Deep Neck Stabilisation Exercises
  • Dry Needling
  • Electrotherapy & Local Modalities
  • Heat Packs
  • Joint Mobilisation Techniques
  • Kinesiology Tape
  • Neurodynamics
  • Physiotherapy Instrument Mobilisation (PIM)
  • Prehabilitation
  • Strength Exercises
  • Stretching Exercises
  • Supportive Taping & Strapping
  • TENS Machine
  • Video Analysis
  • Yoga
  • Text Neck FAQs

  • Common Physiotherapy Treatment Techniques
  • What is Pain?
  • Physiotherapy & Exercise
  • Massage Styles and their Benefits
  • What Causes Post-Exercise Muscular Pain?
  • ​What's the Fastest Way to Get Rid of Neck Pain?
  • Can Kinesiology Taping Reduce Your Swelling and Bruising?
  • Chest Pain: Is it a Heart Attack or Your Spine?
  • Headache or Migraine... What to do?
  • Heat Packs. Why Does Heat Feel So Good?
  • How Can You Relieve Your Neck Pain?
  • How to Achieve the Best Standing Posture
  • How to Minimise or Prevent Whiplash
  • Migraine? Free Online Test
  • Neck Headache? Free Online Test
  • Posture Trainer? Check out the BackTone 4000
  • Sports Injury? What to do? When?
  • Tension-Type Headache? Free Online Test
  • What are the Benefits of a Standing Desk?
  • What are the Common Adolescent Spinal Injuries?
  • What are the Common Massage Therapy Techniques?
  • What are the Early Warning Signs of an Injury?
  • What are the Healthiest Sleeping Postures?
  • What are the Signs of an Unsupportive Pillow?
  • What Can You Do To Help Arthritis?
  • What is a TENS Machine?
  • What is Chronic Pain?
  • What is Good Standing Posture?
  • What is Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy?
  • What is Nerve Pain?
  • What is Sports Physiotherapy?
  • What is the Correct Way to Sit?
  • What to expect when you visit PhysioWorks?
  • What's the Benefit of Stretching Exercises?
  • When Should You Use a Shoulder Posture Brace?
  • Why do your Joints Click?
  • Why Kinesiology Tape Helps Reduce Swelling and Bruising Quicker
  • Call PhysioWorks

    Book Online

    Text Neck Related Products Available Online

    Neck Injuries

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    Last updated 25-Jun-2019 10:09 AM

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