Text Neck: How My Cell Phone Use Affected My Physical Development

Digital Dilemma, Health

textneckfromheavyphoneuse

For those of you who are new to my site and are visiting for the first time, this blog is about the effects of digital media on us and how we can stay sane in a time when we’re living half of our lives online. I’m interested in many of the ways that digital media impacts us. For example, how things like photoshop and sites like Instagram distorts the perception of our bodies. But today, I want to share something that’s a little bit more serious and even darker than that… My phone and computer use affected my physical development.

My Story

When I was in high school, I started to notice that there was a part in my back that always felt like needed to be cracked. At first, I would have to crack the middle of my back once a day, but then it started to get even more frequent. I remember when I first started to have that problem I talked to my parents about how I wanted to see a chiropractor and they were 100% against it. They might have rather seen me dead than in the hands of a chiropractor. In their minds, chiropractors were as legitimate as an old homeless woman on the street corner offering $5 tarot card readings. So, as badly as I wanted to go, I finally had to let it go.

What started as that nagging feeling that bothered me all day had slowing spread to all other parts of my body over the course of ten years the longer it went untreated. It went to my hips, my upper back, my knees, my shoulders, and finally my neck. Eventually, it became worse than a nagging feeling of needing to crack my back and turned into a pain that I felt constantly. I tried yoga, essential oils, hot presses, ice, exercise, massages, you name it. Then one day I decided to get a massage in hopes that it would ease the pain, but it only made it much worse. As the therapist was working on my neck, I could tell that the pain was in my bones rather than my muscles. The top vertebrae in my neck were sticking out and causing inflammation and knots all around that area. But even then, I still let it go. I had been told my whole life that I shouldn’t see a chiropractor so I didn’t really see it as a possibility at that point and thought that I just had to deal with the pain. Eventually, my alignment issue became so painful that I couldn’t function normally. The only time I felt somewhat decent was if I was laying down in bed. Finally, the day came when I had no choice to seek help and find a chiropractor.

Seeking Help

My online searches brought me to a highly rated office called Lighthouse Chiropractic in Saint Augustine, Florida. I read through the reviews and found one by a woman who loved this office so much and found it to be so healing that she believed fate had brought her to Lighthouse Chiropractic. I will never forget that I picked up my phone and left a voicemail for a consultation appointment while I was laying on the floor crying from neck and back pain. To this day, I’m still embarrassed by that voicemail and I wonder if they had ever noticed that I was choking back tears and trying to manage my shaking voice while I left my name and number.

After a day, they called me back and we set up a consultation. That first visit was spent getting all sorts of x-rays and other tests done to figure out what exactly was going on. I mostly sat in a room wearing an ugly gown and wondering what it all was supposed to show. The next visit I came back to go over it all with the Chiropractor, Dr. Adam Podzra (He goes by Dr. Adam so that’s how I’ll refer to him in this post), and discuss a plan for treatment. He walked me through all the different scans which showed him that the areas I always felt like I had to crack were completely inflamed. There was no wonder why I was in so much pain, bad alignment was causing my bones to poke out and cause soreness in my muscles. He also learned that my body is always in a state of fight or flight. I always had just thought that I was “a worrier,” but apparently it’s a bit worse than that.

Eventually, Dr. Adam showed me my x-rays, and I’ll never forget it. The first time I saw my alignment problems on an x-ray I wanted to cry. To him, it was nothing out of the ordinary, but for me it was scary. I was just a couple degrees away from having scoliosis so my spine looked like it was curving and pulling my hip up. My spine was also slightly twisted, and last but not least, my neck had developed straight up and down – a problem known as “Text Neck.” Here is my x-ray below.↡

heavyphoneusetextneckimage

What is Text Neck?

So you might be thinking, “Duh, isn’t your neck supposed to go straight up and down?” Actually no. If you look at an x-ray of a “healthy” neck, it has a nice curve it in- kind of like the shape of C. But my neck has developed “like a stair stepper,” as Dr. Adam would say. It looks like it’s in a straight line with no curve at all. It’s caused by us constantly looking down at computers, tablets, and cell phones. This misalignment is also referred to as a vertebral subluxation.

Side Note: All of the information I’m sharing and quoting in this post is directly from documents Dr. Adam has sent me so I can learn more about this issue. One is called, “The Cervical Curve: Structure, Function, and Human Health,” and the other is called, “Occupational Health, Safety, and Chiropractic.” Both were written by a man named Keith Wassung, a Chiropractic Advocate.

So what does this mean? “Vertebral subluxations cause nerve interference which diminished the inherent healing potential of the human body. Subluxations have been documented to cause a variety of health problems including headaches, migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain, TMJ, sinus infections, ear infections, vertigo, allergies, asthma, thyroid conditions, sinusitis, arm pain, shoulder pain, hormonal imbalance, insomnia, fibromyalgia, and many others.” And I have almost all of those wonderful things. “Vertebral subluxations are often referred to as the “silent killer” because they destroy the health and healing process of the human body long before the presence of any symptoms.”

Over time this leads to something even more exciting called spinal degeneration. What is spinal degeneration? “Spinal degeneration is the gradual and progressive breakdown of vertebral joints and related structures due to long-standing misalignments or vertebral subluxations, caused by deterioration of the intervertebral disc, bad posture, or a variety of traumatic injuries. When left uncorrected these spinal misalignments cause abnormal biomechanics which erode joint surfaces.

So if you’re like me and you don’t want that to happen to you, you have to invest in seeing a Chiropractor. “Doctors of Chiropractic detect and correct vertebral subluxations by physically adjusting the spine to restore normal spinal functions and balance which allows the nervous system to send and receiver information. This allows the inherent healing potential of the body to best express itself.”

Ok, Heather. Why Should I Care?

So this misaligned happens due to accidents, injuries, childhood falls you may not even remember, and even the birth process. But another big cause of it is poor posture, which almost everyone has now. In our modern lifestyle, we’re always looking at some screen, watching a show, scrolling through Instagram, online shopping, writing a blog, sitting at a computer all day at work, etc. This head in a forward posture can add up to 30 pounds of abnormal leverage on the cervical spine (particularly in the area where I always felt like I had to crack my back) and causing alignment to get out of whack. Also, if you really feel like having nightmares tonight, then you should know that it can also deplete our lung capacity and smush gastrointestinal organs. How f*cking scary?!

This is so important to talk about because there are now millions of children growing up with the internet. I nannied for parents who gave their 2, 3, or 4 years old their own iPads. I see little kids with cell phones. My neck developed straight up and down, and I didn’t even start to use the internet heavily until I was in high school. Children now are using this technology every. single. day. I just know that years from now every single one of them is going to wake up one morning and discover that the reason they’re in pain all the time is that their bones have been deteriorating. But by the time that happens, it will be too late to help them.

In the last couple of years more people are coming forward and talking about how digital media impacts their mental health, but there hasn’t been much a discussion about how it impacts physical health. I’m hoping that this blog post acts as a warning to other people who, like me, have spent years consumed by my devices. Let’s talk about this problem now and put an end to “Text Neck.”

Stay tuned for posts in the future about how I treated Text Neck at home and my progress after being under Chiropractic care for 7 months.

Thank you for reading Lost Online and as always, let me know what you think in the comments! What are your thoughts on Text Neck? Do you have Text Neck? Do you see a Chiropractor and has it helped you with this issue? Have you set any restrictions for your tablet, phone, or computer use?

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

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