The Risks Associated with Turtleneck Syndrome

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If you live a sedentary lifestyle and your everyday activities are characterized by excessive phone use and typing on a computer, you’re a likely candidate to several health risks that can have long-term and debilitating side effects. Spine and joint issues are a big risk, including chronic diseases such as heart problems and diabetes. One of the things you must watch out for is turtleneck syndrome.

What is Turtleneck Syndrome?

neck pain due to turtleneck syndrome

Turtleneck syndrome is a relatively new term used to refer to a set of not-so-new symptoms such as neck and shoulder pain, headaches, and back discomfort due to pressure on the spine. Apart from its common name turtleneck syndrome, the condition is also popularly known as text neck because one of the most common causes is texting or the act of constantly looking down on one’s phone or tablet. Another common name of the condition is tech neck syndrome because it is commonly associated with individuals working in the tech and IT industry.

The name turtleneck syndrome originated from one of the most common symptoms associated with the condition, which is a forward head posture similar to that of a turtle. The act of constantly looking down on one’s phone forces the head to assume a forward and downward posture, thus the name turtleneck. And, this is harmful as it puts strain on the neck, shoulders, and the spine.

Turtleneck Syndrome: Things to Watch Out

If your work includes excessive use of the computer, mobile phone, or tablet, or if you find yourself constantly looking down and glued to your phone, it might be time to be more mindful of your habits and practices to avoid or fix turtle neck syndrome.

Check out the following and pay attention to any abnormality, discomfort, or pain that you may be experiencing, which could very well indicate a problem with your body due to your daily habits.

Pain in the neck and shoulders

This is perhaps the first and most obvious symptom that comes up when you are suffering from turtleneck syndrome. Because of the constant act of looking down, your neck and shoulder muscles are strained. When this happens, you will feel stiffness and numbness on the muscles, which might soon lead to a more intense pain that will be difficult to ignore.


Although there might be several reasons that may be associated with headache, such as lack of sleep and eye strain, among others, poor posture and pressure on the neck and shoulders can contribute to this condition. Turtleneck syndrome—the constant looking down on the screen coupled with putting undue pressure on the muscles in your upper body—can lead to a recurring tension headache that is not only uncomfortable but distracting, keeping you from being fully functional.

woman suffering from headache

Posture problems

Turtleneck syndrome is primarily characterized by poor posture, the act of looking down excessively and extending your neck and head forward and downward more than you should. Constantly doing this can lead to having what is called a forward head, where your head becomes naturally positioned forward instead of being aligned with your shoulders. Most people who constantly look down of their electronic devices do not notice that even when they are no longer looking down, their head has already assumed a forward position. The danger with this is that it places strain on the back and the spine on a constant basis, and this can lead to discomfort and pain in the long run.

Spinal issues

As mentioned above, spinal problems are perhaps the most dangerous turtleneck syndrome risks because they can be permanent, debilitating, and may require serious and costly procedures to correct once they occur. Besides, any problem in the spine may affect the entire body.

What’s tricky with turtleneck syndrome is that it starts off simple enough—looking down on one’s phone is considered normal. However, do it constantly and you may not even immediately notice just how strained your neck, shoulders, and back have become due to this harmful habit. Once you finally realize the cause of all the pain and discomfort, it may be too late. So, as many individuals say, prevention is better than cure. And, awareness is better than ignorance. Fix turtle neck syndrome by preventing it in the first place.

Reduced lung capacity

Most people associate the dangers of turtleneck syndrome with the bones, the joints, the back, neck, and shoulders, but it actually affects the entire body—including the lungs. Poor posture, the act of looking down and hunching over, can compress your lungs and prevent it from fully expanding. Therefore, it also restricts the amount of oxygen your lungs take in.

Although you might not feel the immediate and obvious effect of this condition, it can be associated with fatigue and less than optimal cognitive functioning at work or at home, which may manifest in lack of focus and less energy.

All these risks don’t seem too dangerous at the onset, but they can disrupt your day and may potentially lead to more serious conditions later on. Now, the question in your mind may be this—is it possible to fix turtle neck syndrome? The good news is that, yes, it is possible.

a woman exercising

How to Fix Turtle Neck Syndrome

The good news about turtleneck syndrome is the fact that it’s easy to address this issue. The key is lifestyle change. As the cause of the condition are harmful habits, the way to fix turtle neck syndrome is to correct the habits that cause it.

Here’s how you can address or fix turtle neck syndrome:

  • Avoid excessive use of your phone or tablet, as this often leads to the mindless act of looking down on your gadget.
  • If you cannot avoid using your gadgets, prevent or fix turtle neck by positioning your gadget along a comfortable line of sight—get a phone holder, for instance.
  • Stretch your neck and shoulders every once in a while. Stand up and stretch your neck side to side and then front to back.
  • Fix turtle neck syndrome by living an overall active lifestyle. Apart from exercising, find ways to include movement in your daily schedule.

Turtleneck syndrome may be a harmful and debilitating condition, but it is not a hopeless one. There is a way to fix turtle neck or text neck by making positive changes in your daily habits. If you’ve started to experience discomfort and pain on your neck, shoulders, and back, and you feel you might be suffering from this condition, fear not—it’s not too late.

Start small, start simple by eliminating the harmful habits that may be causing and exacerbating the condition. The key is mindfulness and making the changes as soon as you can. Soon, you can say goodbye to the condition, fix turtle neck, and enjoy a comfortable, pain-free day.

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