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Text neck is a term used to describe the symptoms of repetitive trauma to the soft tissues in the neck. This type of trauma is commonly associated with holding an unsupported neck posture for a prolonged period of time, such as while looking downward and using a phone or tablet.
Text neck typically causes a mild ache in one specific spot or over a broader region, such as spanning from the bottom of the neck to the shoulder. A common cause for text neck is a strained muscle in the back or side of the neck, where the muscle fibers and tendons may be stretched beyond their normal limits or torn. If a large muscle such as the trapezius is strained, pain from the neck may radiate into the shoulder and over the shoulder blade and upper back.
Over time, more severe symptoms, such as sharp pain with movement, stiffness, painful muscle spasms, and headache, may be experienced.
Text neck due to a muscle strain injury may recur if the cause is not addressed. The symptoms typically get better with limiting phone or tablet use, practicing better posture by holding devices up and closer to the eye level, and performing exercises that target the neck, chest, and upper back muscles.