Is your cell phone causing you to have headaches?

At least once a day I have to tell someone in my clinic to put the cell phone down as they are talking on it shrugging their shoulder to their ear completely using their muscles inappropriately which they swear they only do in front of me and NEVER on their own, they just needed to get their workout in and deal with a pressing phone call.  However here is a hint, if they are comfortable to do it in front of me they do it at other times.  Those of us who never hold the phone up to our ear with our shoulder find it very difficult to do.  In fact that is a quick and dirty test of how out of balance your muscles are, try to hold your cell phone up to your ear, using just your shoulder.  Now most of us will be able to do it but how long you can hold it there is another story.  I don\’t make it more than a few seconds before my muscles start screaming because I do not find myself in this position ever.  Some people are able to last a minute or two before they notice that it has become uncomfortable and the need to stop.

The fact of the matter is, is that the misuse of those muscles has very serious impact on your neck and shoulder.  Something as simple as holding the phone like this can cause headaches, numbness and tingling in the hands, weakness and just pain in the shoulder and the neck.  Putting the phone up to your ear in such a manner causes muscles that attach from your back to your neck to be put in over use.  By performing this movement enough, those muscles will begin to \’think\’ that they are supposed to be in the shortened position (like when you hold your phone to your ear) and start to stay there even after you have stopped holding the phone.

These muscles show how muscles attach from the back to the base of the neck and how a shorter position would cause them to pull on the head, causing headaches.  What is not pictured is the vast amount of nerves that run in and out of the spaces that can become \’pinched\’ when these muscles are at improper lengths, causing numbness, tingling and pain down the arm, shoulder and even into the hand.

Recently there has been a lot of talk about cell phones causing brain tumors.  So far none of the research has found this to be true.  But one of the things that have prompted the looking at possible brain tumors from cell phones, is the reports of headaches from a lot of people who use their cell phones.  These headaches most likely could be coming from the muscle imbalances existing in the neck.

What can you do?  First thing is to never talk on your cell phone with your shoulder holding the phone.  This is a bad habit to get into and even doing it a few times can lead to problems.  You can go the traditional route and just hold the phone with your hand but be weary as your arm gets tired you may begin to shrug your shoulder.  The best solution would be to purchase a blue tooth headset.  For the record I will tell you that I am one of those people who do find them obnoxious and to be honest I do not own one.  But I do not talk on my cell phone very often at all.  I would bite the bullet and get one, if I found that I talked a lot on my cell phone, but I do not.  However, if you find yourself ever holding the phone with your shoulder than you would be an excellent candidate for a blue tooth head set.

If you do find yourself in the unfortunate position of experiencing neck pain, starting physical therapy immediately is going to lead to the best results.  Physical therapy, especially hands on, is going to be needed to loosen the muscles that are tightening so greatly to cause a headache and to impede the nerve impulses as they go down the arm.  Physical therapy is also going to help educate you on the best posture to be sitting in and talking on the phone in because chances are if you are using your cell phone incorrectly, there are other postures you are doing incorrectly also.  Physical therapy will also help to strengthen muscles and stretch other muscles that have become out of balance over time due to improper use.  The sooner you begin physical therapy the better and quicker you will see results.  For more information on physical therapy services go to

I do have to state that not all headaches and neck pain are due to cell phones.  There are many reasons that you could have headaches or having numbness and tingling in your hands.  This blog was merely made to make you think the next time you want to answer your cell phone and hold it with your shoulder, not doing it may save you from life long headaches.

Call Total Performance Physical Therapy today to schedule your appointment!


We’re Hiring!
We Have an Immediate Opening for a Physical Therapist in Harleysville. Resumes Can Be Sent to

Scroll to Top