Tech neck may be a new term, but neck pain related to the repetitive strain of tilting your head forward and looking down is an age-old ailment. The condition is technically called cervical kyphosis because it affects the seven small vertebrae of your cervical spine and the neck muscles and tendons involved in moving your head up and down and turning it side to side. With smart phones, tablets, laptops, and the many hours at our computers, this repetitive strain has never been more prevalent than it is today.
What Are the Symptoms of Tech Neck?
Symptoms of tech neck usually start off gradually and increase in severity over time. They include:
- Muscle strains in your lower neck, upper back, and shoulders
- Sharp, localized pain
- Stiff neck, upper back, and shoulders
- Increased pain when looking down to text
- Jaw pain from bad alignment and positioning
- Tingling or numbness of your arms and hands
- Eventual disc degeneration
What Causes Tech Neck?
Also sometimes called text neck, this condition is caused by this poor posture: head forward, shoulders hunched, and back collapsed for long periods of time. Start with the fact that, when looking straight ahead, your head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds. For every degree you tilt it forward, so the force of gravity on your neck increases. Considering mankind’s addiction to ever-advancing screen technology which requires a 45-degree bend of our necks, that results in nearly 50 pounds of weight for your neck muscles, shoulders, and upper back to support. Add to that reports that Americans spend around four hours per day looking at their smartphones. No wonder your neck and back have been complaining!
So How Should You Sit?
Say no to bad posture and yes to these best practices:
- Keep your tablet and/or computer monitor at eye level
- Use a headset or speakerphone if you tend to hold your phone between your shoulder and ear
- Ensure that your elbows rest on your desk when using the keyboard or mouse
- Use a chair that reclines slightly, offers lumbar support, and has a headrest
- Treat flare ups with a heating pad and appropriate medications until you can see your chiropractor
- Rest your elbows on your hips to hold your smart phone at eye level.
Treatment for Tech Neck
Because it is so common and chucking our digital devices is not really an option, your best course of action if you start developing any of the above, is to consult with a neck specialist to establish a program unique to your needs.