Prevalence of text neck syndrome and SMS thumb among smartphone users in college-going students: a cross-sectional survey study



Physical exposure during mobile phone use results in poor posture and repetitive movements of the hand and thumb cause groups of symptoms. The terms ‘text neck syndrome’ and ‘SMS thumb’ are the most common among them. Our aim was to find out the prevalence rate of text neck syndrome and SMS thumb among smartphone users in college-going students.

Subjects and methods

A cross-sectional study was conducted by a random sampling method from a recognized institution. A total of 113 participants, both male and female, in the age group 17–25 years participated in this study. Participants were asked to fill in a proforma containing the Nomophobia Questionnaire (NMP-Q), the Neck Disability Index (NDI), and the Cornell Hand Discomfort Questionnaire (CHDQ). Descriptive statistics were used to express the prevalence rate and, for the demographic data, the Pearson correlation coefficient was used to correlate between the NMP-Q with the NDI and CHDQ, respectively.


The mean age, height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) of participants were 21.15 ± 2.17 years, 160 ± 7.36 cm, 55.50 ± 13.3 kg, and 21.53 ± 5.60 kg/m2, respectively. Of the study population, 46.9% reported having pain in their neck, 42.5% reported having mild to severe disability in their neck, and 29.2% reported having pain in their thumb due to prolonged smartphone use. There exists a significant positive correlation between the NMP-Q with the NDI (p < 0.001) and CHDQ (p = 0.001).


The results of this study showed that text neck syndrome and SMS thumb are seen in nomophobic students. The musculoskeletal problems may be short term initially but can develop into long-term disabilities if proper caution is not taken.

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This study paper was presented as a poster presentation at Synapse-2018, 1st International Physiotherapy Conference, organized by Synapse Physio Pvt. Ltd., and Chitkara University, Rajura, Punjab, India, on 13 October, 2018. We thank, Dr. Neha Sharma, MPT, University Research Fellow (101782), Maharishi Markandeshwar Institute of physiotherapy and Rehabilitation, Maharishi Markandeshwar (Deemed to be University), (NAAC accredited Grade 'A' University), Mullana- 133 207, Ambala District, Haryana, India, for the final proof reading and correction of the manuscript. 

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SA, RA, AJS, and NP conceived and designed the study, conducted research, provided research materials, and collected and organized data. SA and AJS wrote the initial draft of the article. All the authors approved the final draft of the article.

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Correspondence to Asir John Samuel.

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Ahmed, S., Akter, R., Pokhrel, N. et al. Prevalence of text neck syndrome and SMS thumb among smartphone users in college-going students: a cross-sectional survey study. J Public Health (Berl.) 29, 411–416 (2021).

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  • Cross-sectional study
  • Pain
  • Smartphone
  • Text messaging
  • SMS thumb