What Is Tech Neck?
Phones, tablets, and TV screens are an integral part of American daily life. It’s estimated that the average American spends between 7 and 10 hours a day in front of a screen whether that’s on their computer for work, texting throughout the day, or coming home to relax in front of the TV. While the digital age has opened up many doors of communication and entertainment it is also having a profound effect on our bodies and minds. One of these effects we see in our offices every day is the phenomenon known as “tech neck.”
Tech neck is becoming an evermore common cause of chronic pain and it stems from the way we interact with our digital devices. If you’re experiencing unexplained chronic pain in your neck, back, or shoulders, you might have tech neck and not even know it. Here’s what to do to get your pain-free life back.
What Is Tech Neck?
Tech neck is the catch-all term for strain in the neck, back and shoulder muscles caused by tilting your head downward for long periods. It was dubbed “tech neck” because the posture is most often caused by individuals looking down at phones and keyboards for long periods.
Our heads are heavy and meant to be supported not only by our necks and shoulders but by the entire alignment of our bodies. Looking down for extended periods can cause undue strain on our muscles and lead to chronic pain.
What areas are affected by Tech neck?
Tech neck typically causes pain in the cervical spine, or the upper region of the spine including the neck. The cervical spine consists of seven vertebrae that are specifically designed to hold the head upright. However, when they are bent downward for long periods, the muscles in the neck, upper back, and shoulders can experience fatigue.
Unfortunately, doctors are seeing tech neck in patients as young as middle schoolers, and the long-term effects are still unclear. However, there are several ways you can prevent tech neck for yourself and your family that doesn’t require any medical interventions.
How To Prevent Tech Neck
Luckily, because tech neck is posture-related, it can often be prevented with a few simple adjustments to the way you use your digital devices. Making these changes can also reduce or reverse symptoms if the problem has not persisted for some time. In order to prevent or reverse tech neck pain, try these adjustments:
- When using a handheld device such as a phone or tablet, bring the device close to eye level and stand with your head up and shoulder back.
- Adjust your desk at work or at home so that your computer screens are at eye level.
- Invest in ergonomic furniture or a standing desk to make your work space more encouraging of good posture
- When at home rest your head back in your chair or recliner to give your neck support when using your phone or tablet.
If tech neck pain persists, you may want to speak to a pain management specialist about remedies for chronic pain. If you have questions about tech neck or would like to speak to a physician, contact your local PPOA office today.