Have you ever felt stiffness or pain in your neck area? Do you sit at a computer or scroll through your phone often? Chances are, the two are related.
The human body was not designed to sit in front of a computer all day or look down at the content on our phones for hours at a time. But today, most of us are dependent on these devices for our daily activities, and thus comes the occupational hazard known as “Tech Neck.”
Tech Neck is a condition where you feel pain and or stiffness in the neck region due to excessive use of a technological device. The pain can also extend to your shoulders and upper back.
What Causes Tech Neck?
The most common cause of Tech Neck is bad posture. The cervical spine supports the weight of the head and the pressure on it increases significantly when the head is tilting forward. A bad angle between the head and the spine increases the pressure further. This includes looking at a screen with a hunched back, viewing a screen at an improper angle, and continuously looking at a screen without a break.
Further aggravating Tech Neck, a bad sleeping posture and improper mattress can make things worse. Also, if you’ve had previous trauma to the neck or upper back such as an injury or surgery, you are more susceptible to the condition.
What Are the Symptoms of Tech Neck?
The signs of Tech Neck are not limited to the neck. Symptoms can impact the upper back as well as the shoulders and the head. Some of the common symptoms of Tech Neck are:
- Headache - Muscles at the bottom of the head may start to ache due to excessive stress. Furthermore, staring into a screen for extended hours also puts pressure on the eyes.
- Stiffness and reduced mobility - The neck feels stiff and turning the head can become painful. Even tilting the head back and forth can become difficult.
- Shoulder and upper back pain - The back muscles can feel stiff and moving the shoulders may feel painful. This is mainly due to bad posture.
How Is Tech Neck Diagnosed?
Tech Neck is fairly simple to diagnose. The pain is usually limited to the neck, upper back, and shoulders. With self-evaluation, you can usually identify if you have been using your smartphone or computer with bad posture and or for long durations.
Symptoms of Tech Neck usually persist for a few days or weeks, and then subside after correcting your posture or changing screen-time habits. However, it is advisable to see a doctor if the pain is unbearable or seems to be getting worse.
What Is the Treatment for Tech Neck?
There are several options available if you are suffering from Tech Neck. Over-the-counter pain medication can be taken for immediate pain relief; however, it is best to address the underlying issue causing the discomfort and pain.
- Rest or short break - Taking some time away from smartphones or computers can help the body to heal itself. When the neck is no longer tilting at an awkward angle, the neck muscles slowly heal.
- Cervical traction - Cervical traction is a method of reducing the pressure on your vertebrae by gently pulling your head away from your neck. This should be done under an expert’s supervision. This method can be practiced over a period of time until the pain is gone.
How Can You Prevent Tech Neck?
There are several ways you can save yourself from going through all that pain, and they include changing the way you interact with technology. Some slight modifications to your daily habits can go a long way to prevent Tech Neck.
- Proper viewing angles - Ensure that the screen you are viewing is at eye level to minimize tilting of the head.
- Posture - It is also important to maintain an ideal body posture while using your computer. Also, the head or the back should have proper support to minimize pressure on joints as well as sustain good posture for extended periods.
- Regular tech breaks - Taking time off from your devices at regular intervals will allow your neck and upper back muscles to relax and reduce eye strain.
- Exercise/Stretching - Regularly exercising and stretching will help your body stay strong and limber, reducing muscle strain and stiffness.
If you suffer from chronic neck pain, contact us today at (954) 567-1332 to experience the Cantor difference firsthand. Cantor Spine Center at the Paley Orthopedic & Spine Institute is a renowned South Florida-based medical practice specializing in a holistic approach to spinal care through minimally-invasive surgery, cutting-edge technology, methodical research and analysis, and exceptional patient experiences.