Neck Pain or “Text Neck Syndrome”: How a Cervical Spine MRI Can Diagnose the Issue
Millennials and those within Generation Z are victims of emerging modern-day diseases. This can be primarily due to one’s lifestyle, especially spending long hours browsing the internet on laptops or smartphones. One of the common disorders among young people is known as Text Neck Syndrome. A U.S. chiropractor coined the term (also known as Turtle Neck Syndrome). Text Neck Syndrome develops because of continuous stress to the normal neck curvature.
How is Neck Pain Associated With Text Neck Syndrome?
One can experience neck pain due to sustaining an injury, or as a result of remaining in an unnatural or poor posture for a prolonged period of time (e.g. constantly looking downward our mobile devices).
This stress leads to the development of tightness and soreness in our neck and around our shoulders. The more we strain our neck, the higher the level of weight it must be required to carry.
Can an MRI Scan Diagnose Text Neck Syndrome?
Many people are uninformed about the term Text Neck Syndrome. They go by “neck pain,” “inflammation,” or “shoulder stiffness,” etc. When you experience constant pain in your neck or shoulder region, you cannot afford to overlook the symptoms. Your doctor will recommend undergoing an MRI to properly diagnose the issue.
You may require a cervical spine MRI to diagnose or discover the cause of your shoulder or neck pain. A cervical spine MRI scan will produce images of your musculoskeletal system, focusing on the neck and spine region. The scan will detect deformities or defects associated with your pain, including weakness or numbness.
Are Smartphones Causing Neck Pain and Spinal Disorders?
In an upright position, our ears are aligned with the center of our shoulders. When upright, the average weight one’s head can sustain is around nine to 12 pounds. However, when the head is tilted forward (even by only a few inches) the pressure increases dramatically. In fact, as much as 60 pounds is exerted on one’s neck when the chin touches the chest.
Our neck and spinal posture changes as we spend an extended amount of time on our mobile devices. As a result, our neck muscles and shoulders experience or bear excessive tension. This can further exacerbate chronic headaches associated with Text Neck Syndrome.
Overlooking the symptoms of Text Neck Syndrome can cause inflammation in our neck ligaments, nerve irritation, and also lead to an abnormal spinal curvature. Furthermore,Text Neck Syndrome can change the structure of our vertebrae, causing a deformity known as “dowager’s hump.” Sitting slumped for long periods can restrict our lungs’ ability to expand – which is crucial for the flow of oxygen to one’s heart.
Signs and Symptoms of Text Neck Syndrome
Text Neck Syndrome sends innumerable signals through our bodies. The most common type of signal is neck pain or shoulder stiffness. However, you should also lookout for the following signs to access the right treatment process:
- Stiff neck: Difficulty moving one’s neck
- Pain: In the form of a dull ache or a sharp pain occurring in the lower part of the neck
- Radiating pain: Text Neck pain can emerge from our neck and spread to our shoulders and arms.
- Muscle weakness: Our shoulder muscles, like the rhomboid or trapezius and external rotators, are weakened due to constant strain. This often causes muscle weakness.
- Headaches: The tightening of our suboccipital muscles can cause chronic headaches.
Additionally, patients should be aware of the following symptoms:
- Compressed craniocervical joint
- Loss of lung capacity
- Spinal degeneration and early onset of arthritis
If you’re suffering from widespread neck pain, you should immediately visit a physician to receive an accurate diagnosis to remedy the issue.
Cervical Spine MRI for Neck Pain or Text Neck Syndrome
Your physician will prescribe an MRI scan to detect the cause of your neck or shoulder pain and each a precise diagnosis.
An MRI scan is a non-invasive, radiation-free imaging tool providing doctors with concrete evidence about a suspected condition. Using powerful magnets, radio waves, and computer programs, detailed images of bones, organs, muscles, ligaments, and tendons are produced to diagnose a disease (or to see how well a patient is responding to the treatment process). MRI scans can help detect minute tensions, strains, or sprains that are often missed in X-rays or CT Scans.
When a doctor suspects Text Neck Syndrome and recommends an MRI, check with your insurance provider to see if the procedure is covered. In many cases, the procedure is covered, but the disorder might be under a different name or terminology.
Advanced MRI Technology to Detect Text Neck Syndrome – Upright MRI
The Upright MRI system is a state-of-the-art MRI technology that scans patients in multi-positional and symptom-specific positions. It is also called ‘weight-bearing,’ ‘positional’ or ‘Stand-Up MRI.’
The technology and design of the Upright MRI system allows for us to scan patients in diverse positions, including the exact position where a patient is experiencing the pain. An Upright or Stand-Up MRI is used to measure the precise weight displacement on the craniocervical junction, or any other joint within the body.
An Upright MRI system is recommended to patients suffering from Text Neck Syndrome or general neck pain. It not only provides high-field MRI scans, but also takes images in different postures to show where the actual problem exists.
Expert MRI also provides combination Front Open & Stand-Up MRI scans for patients. This is a perfect option for patients who have claustrophobia or anxiety. Our advanced machines can accommodate patients of larger size, children, senior citizens, or patients with disabilities.
People suspected of suffering from Text Neck Syndrome can receive a Front Open/Stand-Up MRI from your local Expert MRI location. A scan will allow patients to see exactly where their neck pain originates from, and also have subspecialty radiologists provide a complete diagnostic report about any injury or stress to the craniocervical junction.
Preventing Text Neck Syndrome
Preventing any disease is always advisable. While it is not possible for most of us to entirely stop using smartphones or handheld devices, there are ways to prevent the syndrome from progressing. Some tips for preventing Text Neck Syndrome include:
- Avoid prolonged static positions
- Avoid excess use of smartphones (and take frequent breaks)
- Position your device at eye level (rather than chest level) to reduce stress on the head and neck
- Avoid repetitive movements like continuous typing or swiping
- Avoid holding a bulky device in one hand for long durations
- Try practicing yoga to prevent neck pain resulting from mobile phone use – exercises like the exaggerated nod, cat-cow, or bow-pose can help reduce stress on the head and neck.
If you do experience prolonged pain, it is best to receive a thorough examination by a qualified Expert MRI physician.
Think you might have Text Neck Syndrome?