What are effects of using a phone for long hours?

Long hours of staring at the screen can be hazardous if not done with caution.

Bending the head forward to use a smartphone/computer affects the spine directly. Tilting the head forward to 15 degrees places about 12.15kgs of force on the neck. This increases to 18 kgs at 30 degrees, 22.05 kgs at 45 degrees and 27 kgs at 60 degrees.

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When holding your head in this position, i.e. 60 degrees, excessive amounts of tension are created in the deep muscles of your neck and across the shoulders causing both acute and chronic neck pain (text neck/turtle neck). Chronic headaches have also been linked to this condition.

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

Signs and Symptoms of Text Neck

  • Stiff neck: soreness and difficulty in moving the neck is usually present when trying to move the neck after long usages.
  • Pain: can be localized to one spot or may be diffused over an area, usually lower part of the neck. Can be described as dull aching or can also be sharp or stabbing in extreme cases.
  • Radiating pain: there can often be radiation of pain into the shoulders and arms.
  • Muscular weakness: shoulders muscles namely, trapezius, rhomboids and shoulder external rotators are often weak
  • Headache: sub-occipital muscle tightness can lead to tension type headaches.

In addition to these common symptoms there can also be:-

  • Flattening of thoracic kyphosis
  • Early onset arthritis
  • Spinal degeneration
  • Disc compression
  • Muscle weakness


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.

In acute cases, pain relief is the main goal. It can be achieved by: -

  • Regular neck movements: rotations and side bending
  • Stretches: trapezius and levator
  • Chin tuck exercises
  • Ice/heat packs
  • Massage

In extreme chronic cases pain medication, injection into the facet joint or trigger point or acupuncture can be done.

Preventing 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 then identify the best way to restore and maintain good posture by providing you with posture awareness prompts and exercises for you to monitor your own progress indefinitely.

Compiled by, Naomi Wausi

Spine Health and Sports Injury Clinic


Naomi Wausi

Physical Therapist

Spine Health and Sports Injury Clinic


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