Chances are that you have a smartphone and chances are that you may have a new phenomenon called Tech Neck. Tech Neck is stiffness and pain in the neck caused by spending hours hunched over a screen(s). Most of us don’t even realize how much we check our phones, iPads, laptops, or other handheld devices but the number is definitely up there. Let’s be real.
What is Tech Neck?
It was originally coined “text neck”, but changed to tech neck as the world of technology and the varying spectrum of things we do on our portable devices 24/7 changed too. Your neck is designed to hold your head upright, but when we spend massive amounts of time holding our head at 45-degree angles for our phones, it places lots of stress on the neck.
We check our phones without even realizing it, even when we know we don’t have anything to check. The cervical spine (upper region of the spine) is most affected by tech neck. You can feel the cervical spine by placing your hand on the back of your neck. It has seven vertebrae and is designed to support about 10 to 12 pounds. When we tilt our heads forward looking at the screen, it becomes heavier and heavier – upwards of 60 pounds! Remember, this is all because we want to send a “wyd” text or scroll into the Instagram abyss.
Signs of Tech Neck:
Tech neck doesn’t just include the neck. Look out for these symptoms. It is possible that you could be suffering from something else if you have these symptoms, so make sure to be seen by a medical professional to rule out any other diagnosis.
1. Mild achiness/pain in the neck
2. Stiffness / sharp shooting pain in the neck
3. Reduced mobility in the shoulder / upper back/neck region
4. Pain the upper back
It is very common for people to pass on the diagnosis of tech neck and rule it out to just be a “first-world problem”. And that’s just it. It’s a problem. It is a “first-world problem” that should be taken seriously because if it continues, it can lead to constant pain which is more difficult to manage or flare up a pre-existing condition like cervical osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease.
Treating Tech Neck:
Many of us are on our devices all the time. This isn’t made to make you feel guilty, but to dish out the consequences. Luckily, there are ways to help alleviate the pain of tech neck. First things first, it is a good place to start with utilizing cervical traction for long term relief. Cervical traction is the decompressing process of the spine by stretching vertebrae that may have been squished too tightly together. It doesn’t address the cause of tech neck, but it can alleviate the pain and provide some temporary relief. There are devices to help with cervical traction that can make a big difference. Use a chair with a headrest, if possible. It will allow you to easily take some of that pressure off of your neck and promote better posture. Also, encourage yourself to use your devices at eye level. This will prevent you from developing habits of putting your neck in a position it doesn’t always need to be in.
If you know you’re going to be on your phone for an extended period of time, set reminders for every 20 minutes or so, to make sure that you get up and release some of that pressure placed on your neck (you’re on your phone already ). This is also a helpful way to figure out how much time you’re spending hunched over.
We all know the difference between “good pain” (muscles being made in the gym) and “bad pain” (tech neck). Utilizing that knowledge is crucial and make sure to listen to your body and make adjustments accordingly. You’ll thank yourself (and us, ha!) later. Here are some exercises to help avoid some of the bad pain that comes along with tech neck. Tech neck is real and we know #thestruggleisreal, so make sure to do your part.
Stretch, exercise, drink plenty of water. You know the drill.
August 09, 2019