Should I seek help for my neck strain?
I am a 27 year old male. About half a year ago, I had some strains at the back of my neck whenever I am standing up or sitting down while using the hand phone. I did some Google to find the possible cause and realised that what I am experiencing is called a text neck. Meaning to say that it is a posture problem where I will tilt my head down while using the phone. After a long period of maintaining that posture while using the phone, it caused me to feel the strain at the back of the neck. Recently I have noticed that the bones at the back of my neck felt loose. Whenever I massage my neck with my thumb pressing down the back of my neck with a continuous left and right motion, I can hear very loud cracking and grinding sound from the back of my neck. I don't feel any pain while doing this but I am concerned if there is anything wrong with my neck.
Thank you for your question and I can assure that you are not alone!
Increased use of computers and smart devices in our lives have meant that neck pain is going to be a huge problem in the not too distant future. In the past, neck pain was typically after an accident or from torticollis, but if you take a look around most commuter vehicles these days, people are almost in the fetal position while using their phone.
The main cause of neck pain is poor muscle strength and fascial irritation. Both are brought about by poor posture, with the flexor muscles being too dominant compared to the extensor muscles, and the neck fascia being overly stretched from the constant bent forward posture. This might account for the looseness sensation that you have mentioned. Cracking might be from stiffness in the joints from the prolonged sitting posture as well.
As Dr Henry mentions, getting assessed by a Musclo-skeletal/Sports Medicine Doctor would be a good start and if there is a surgical need, perhaps an Orthopedic Surgeon. Often, most neck pains do not need imaging unless there are neurological symptoms.
Good luck with your neck pain!
Thank you very much for your questions. You are very right that most of the neck problems in your age group is likely due to bad posture (humans are not designed to stare at laptops/ handphones for prolonged period of time).
However, if you feel that the symptoms are worsening and not resolving over 6 months, I do suggest you get a proper check up by a doctor or Orthopaedic surgeon.
We will do a MRI scan to ensure that you don't suffer from anything more sinister such as a slipped disc in the neck. We can also advise you about proper postures and proper exercises that you could do to improve your symptoms.
Hope it clarifies some of your doubts.
Dr. Henry Chan