Neck pain is a very common cause of chronic pain in the U.S. With so many of us working desk jobs and texting at all hours of the day, poor posture and heavy loads on our backs and necks can quickly turn from a slight sore to a debilitating condition. Neck pain often worsens as we get older, and can quickly accelerate if not treated right away.
Prevent “Tech Neck” At Work and At Home
The rapid rate of technology growth experienced in the 21st century is affecting more than our lifestyles and modes of communication. While technology has broadly advanced our ability to connect online, it is also making permanent changes to the way our brains and bodies work. One of the most prominent issues that clinicians see is “tech neck” or muscle issues created from the constant gaze down into the phone or computer screen.
Even Pre COVID-19 shutdowns and the work-from-home phenomenon, Americans average 3 or more hours of mobile phone use per day. This doesn’t account for laptop use either, which means that the amount of time the average desk job worker spends looking down at a screen is likely much more. While many folks try to combat the poor posture that this work style can cause, tech neck is invasive in our free time as we browse social media and the internet on our phones.
If you are experiencing neck or shoulder strain and can’t find a cause, tech neck might be the culprit. Below are some symptoms to look out for, and ways you can prevent permanent damage from tech neck.
What Is “Tech Neck?”
Tech neck is the strain of your neck muscles from looking down for extended periods of time. This type of pain did not become common outside the workplace truly until the advent of the smartphone, as most people look down to browse. The longer people spend on their devices, the more likely they are to cause undue stress on their necks and develop recurring issues.
Complications of Tech Neck
If three or four hours of browsing can cause chronic stiffness, those who spend at day at computers without proper desk posture can develop serious chronic pain issues due to tech neck. Muscles can weaken and tear, and when coupled with incorrect sleeping posture, you can permanently damage your neck, leading to chronic pain. This can radiate down the shoulders and spine, causing discomfort for you at all times of the day.
Tech neck can also put strain on the discs in the cervical spine, causing them to bulge or rupture. This will lead to severe pain that can require surgery to remedy. While rare, these injuries due occur solely due to posture and can develop over time if not prevented properly.
How To Prevent Tech Neck
Here are several ways you can prevent tech neck at home and work with simple adjustments to your space and lifestyle:
- Sit upright with correct posture, and invest in a work chair that offers lumbar support and comfort when sitting back.
- Exercise regularly to ensure your muscles receive proper stretching and strengthening. Neck stretches can help alleviate stiffness and pain.
- Take breaks from desk work to move, and limit screen time when off work to ensure you’re not developing a chronic problem.
- Be mindful of your position throughout the day to ensure you’re not slouching or looking down for long periods of time.
- Invest in a comfortable pillow to prove your neck with greater support at night.
If your neck pain is chronic and/or severe, you may have spinal issues that need to be addressed with a doctor. To learn more about your options for neck pain, contact your local PPOA group today!