Doctors concerned with the growing number of 'Text Neck' cases

Andrew Heller is spending his Saturday afternoon at the Capitol. Although he will be out enjoying the sun, Heller will mostly be looking down at his phone.

"Your phone is hypnotizing. You'll spend hours looking down and forget how long you've been staring at that thing especially if you have it plugged into the wall. It's never going to run out of battery and your neck will stiffen up real quick," he said.

Heller, along with thousands of Austinites, are part of a growing group who spend at least 15 hours a day looking down at their cell phones and doctors said it is causing a strange but serious condition.

"Text Neck is a common monicker that we've given patients who have neck and upper back pain," Dr. Roger Parthasarathy, of the Seton Brain and Spine Institute, said.

That pain is caused by the slouching position we put our head and neck in when we are looking down at our phones and tablets a that unnatural position is taking its toll on our bodies.

"As a consequence of having our head bent forward rather than up, it puts about four to seven times the amount of stress across the surface of your discs. That can lead to perhaps accelerated degeneration of your discs, can lead to muscle spasms, and pain of various kinds," Dr. Parthasarathy said.

Natalie Misasi said she spends more than three hours a day on her phone. Although she isn't suffering from any ill effects she understands why so many others are hurting.

"I'm not surprised to hear this at all because I see my friends out all the time, just talking on their phone, looking down at it and texting or you'll be out at dinner and they'll just be looking down at their phone on Facebook, Instagram, and all those fun social media apps."

Dr. Parthasarathy said Text Neck can be prevented with a few simple steps:

  • Adopt a posture that includes holding your phone higher
  • Keeping your neck upright
  • Take breaks from your cell phone
  • Change the environment to better fit the things you want to do (i.e. placing a pillow underneath your laptop)